top of page
Paperback cover.jpg

“In her provocative debut…Febos pulls no punches as she describes in minute, and at times horrific, detail her working life…In lesser hands this could be a maudlin, salacious tale, but Febos’s electrifying prose and unremitting honesty continually challenge the reader. Expertly captures grace within depravity." Kirkus Reviews


“Febos's debut about her four years working as a dominatrix at a midtown Manhattan       “dungeon” cuts a sharp line between prurience and feminist manifesto…In this         emotionally stark, excoriating work, Febos mines the darkest, most troubling aspects of    human interaction." Publisher’s Weekly

"Febos can really write, and it is the narrative voice she inhabits, at once honest and          dispassionate, curious and even idealistic, that turns a timeworn story into a smart,   provocative thrill-ride of a book…For all its jaw-dropping shock value...Whip Smart is, in            the end, a treatise on the psychology of sex and power, subversion and submission – humanity." The Daily Beast


“Memoirs about salacious adventures have two requirements: they must be generous with            the goods and astute with the analysis. Febos delivers on both, and with relish. No salty      detail escapes her eye or goes unexamined. Febos is too self-aware to not see her past             clearly, and too talented a writer to not make it fascinating.” The Economist

“Melissa Febos examines, with frankness, generosity, and unexpected grace, the four        years she spent working as a dominatrix in a midtown Manhattan dungeon…her                revelations are often funny, occasionally sad, and fearlessly candid." San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Febos’ journeying into the darkest corners of both her and others’ minds is entertaining and enlightening; there are weird, eye-popping, sad, hilarious, and all-too-human  episodes and encounters on almost every page.  Febos writes of her own walk on the wild side like a seasoned, and chastened, pro.” Elle Magazine


"Febos ably dissects her own and others' psychological urges and sexual politics and presents it all in a way that renders the title apt. The memoir should be right at home next to Mary Karr, Nick Flynn and Alex Lemon on the bookshelf." New York Press


"A fascinating glimpse into part of the sex industry and the world of sexual fantasy and role playing." —Terry Gross, NPR's Fresh Air


“Melissa Febos does not whitewash anything in Whip Smart. It's not just that she writes about, say, spitting and slapping…it's also that Febos also has the insight into her own behavior.” —Slate


"Febos uses the memoir form to refract her own story of working in the sex industry against multiple dimensions—identity, class, the pursuit of higher education, the lure of artistic aspirations, relationships both intimate and professional—all from an unflinchingly self-aware perspective. On one level, Whip Smart is a tantalizing twist on the classic artist-coming-of-age epic. On another, it’s queer critical theory disguised as narrative." Guernica


“Febos’ book was more than an amusing chronicle of shocking events. Instead, she meticulously questioned and analyzed the motives and driving factors behind her own actions, as well as those of her clients and coworkers. And this unflinching eye was at once empathetic and unforgiving – which, of course, is a difficult line to walk – ultimately making Whip Smart a rewarding and touching first book.” Electric Literature


“Whip Smart is an illuminating read, as Febos strives to take a bluntly honest look at both the world of commodified kink, and herself.” —Bust Magazine


“Even if you do feel the need to scrub down after reading it, the writing in Whip Smart is some of the best I’ve ever read from a memoir. Febos is a raw talent and I can hardly wait to read what she will write next.” The Frisky


“Febos’ personality, which she transmits throughout her writing, is one of the reasons why Whip Smart is amazing. Like all great writers, Febos reveals an understanding of the world that one may have always been aware of, but never able to articulate.”—Sadie Magazine


“Febos’ writing manages to find humor and pathos, switching on a dime as she carries the reader along…Luckily, we can expect that this is just the beginning for Febos.”—Lambda Literary


“[Febos] is an incredibly gifted writer, and this book is nothing short of mesmerizing as it brings us into a netherworld most of us will never ever see firsthand.” — Holly Cara Price for The Huffington Post


“From role play to rubber costumes, Febos gives the reader a sharp portrait of this world and its emotional impact.” GO Magazine


“Febos’s voice is thoughtful, intelligent, and down-to-earth, but her experiences…are completely out of the ordinary. Here, in the honesty particularly of women memoirists, we find the courage needed to walk bravely toward our own deaths. The answer seems to be in living bravely…In throwing open locked doors and honoring both the light and dark inside.” —Miciah Gault for AGNI

bottom of page