The gripping true story of a young law student, an unspeakable crime and a past that refuses to stay buried.
Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working on the retrial defence of death-row convicted murderer and child molester, Ricky Langley, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti death penalty. But the moment Ricky's face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes, the moment she hears him speak of his crimes, she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case, realizing that despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.
Crime, even the darkest and most unspeakable acts, can happen to any one of us, and as Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky's childhood. And by examining minute details of Ricky's case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, to reckon with how her own past colours her view of his crime.
As enthralling as true-crime classics such as In Cold Blood and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and broadcast phenomena such as Making a Murderer and Serial, The Fact of a Body is a groundbreaking, heart-stopping investigation into how the law is personal, composed of individual stories and proof that arriving at the truth is more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.
About the Author
Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in creative writing, an award given for her work on The Fact of a Body. Other honours in support of this, her first book, include a Rona Jaffe Award, a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, as well as fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Center and Yaddo. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in the New York Times, Oxford American, Salon and the anthology True Crime. She has a JD from Harvard, an MFA from Emerson and a BA from Columbia University. Alexandria currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she teaches memoir writing at Grub Street and teaches graduate public policy students at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
I haven't read anything quite like this before..we must congratulate Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. She has made us understand things we might not have understood before -- William Leith * The Spectator * Marzano-Lesnevich is a talented writer. -- William Skidelsky, The Observer A powerful hybrid...The Fact of a Body is true crime that feels true. -- Victoria Segal, The Sunday Times As gripping as a thriller, The Fact of a Body is a disturbing work that explores the toughest questions of law and morality without offering any easy answers. * Literary Review * Utterly remarkable . . . It isn't just that the writing can be beautiful (the author has a very nice way with cemeteries, which is just as well because she visits enough of them), it isn't just her coruscating honesty, it is that she understands how very partial the stories we tell ourselves are. -- David Aaronovitch * The Times * The Fact of a Body is a remarkable act of witness, an anatomy of silence and the violence it abets, a book of both public and private accountings. Rejecting the false comfort of certainty, it confronts the inadequacy of all our tools for fathoming not just unforgivable crimes, but the baffling, human grace that can forgive them. This is a profound and riveting book -- Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You This book is a marvel. With unflinching precision and immense compassion, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich peels apart both a murder case and her own experience to reveal how we try to make sense of the past. The Fact of a Body is equal parts gripping and haunting and will leave you questioning whether any one story can hold the full truth -- Celeste Ng, author of the New York Times bestselling Everything I Never Told You The Fact of a Body is excellent. So gripping and fascinating. -- Sophie Hannah, author of The Carrier and The Monogram Murders Compulsive, eloquent and profoundly troubling. One of those rare books which embrace the genuine complexity of real life. -- Mark Haddon One of the best books I've read this year. Just astounding. -- Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train