"The most necessary book about memoir I've read. Daring, honest, psychologically insightful, and absolutely whip smart." —Mary Karr
A National Bestseller, LA Times Bestseller, & Indie Next Pick
Memoir meets craft masterclass in this “daring, honest, psychologically insightful” exploration of how we think and write about intimate experiences—“a must read for anybody shoving a pen across paper or staring into a screen or a past" (Mary Karr).
In this bold and exhilarating mix of memoir and master class, Melissa Febos tackles the emotional, psychological, and physical work of writing intimately while offering an utterly fresh examination of the storyteller’s life and the questions which run through it.
How might we go about capturing on the page the relationships that have formed us? How do we write about our bodies, their desires and traumas? What does it mean for an author’s way of writing, or living, to be dismissed as “navel-gazing”—or else hailed as “so brave, so raw”? And to whom, in the end, do our most intimate stories belong?
Drawing on her own path from aspiring writer to acclaimed author and writing professor—via addiction and recovery, sex work and academia—Melissa Febos has created a captivating guide to the writing life, and a brilliantly unusual exploration of subjectivity, privacy, and the power of divulgence. Candid and inspiring, Body Work will empower readers and writers alike, offering ideas—and occasional notes of caution—to anyone who has ever hoped to see themselves in a story.
“Whip-smart . . . Shrewd takes on the intersection of craft and life . . . This is a wonder.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Ferociously smart and piercingly insightful, Body Work is an instant classic.” —Cheryl Strayed
“Piercing–yet tender–reflections on what we can learn from memoirs (and how we write about ourselves). Prepare to rave about this book to everyone you've ever met, seriously.” —Glamour UK
“Melissa Febos is at the vanguard of this particular boom in confessional writing, and she is the guide I point my students to when they want to write in this style . . . Body Work, I learned over its 192 taut pages, is an explanation of why stories like Febos’s are powerful . . . Body Work helped me learn how to work alongside and through my ongoing pain by forging a creative outlet. I’m grateful to Febos for the lesson in how to do it.” —Adam Dalva, The Atlantic
"Crucial . . . Sharp insights from a passionate practitioner and champion of memoir."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"One of the most liberating books on the subject of writing that I can think of."
Wide-ranging in its theoretical and historical breadth yet intimate in all ways, Febos’s book offers the tools readers need to identify, access, process, and articulate hard-won stories of trauma and of love that their flesh holds. —Library Journal (starred review)
“This original, lyrical collection weaves memory and teaching—about craft, about trauma and healing, about social justice—into an ode to personal writing that couldn’t come at a more critical time . . . Illuminating . . . This is a book that explores self-reflection as a path to rebirth.” —Jean Guerrero, Los Angeles Times