The Fact of a Body : Two Crimes, One Powerful True Story - Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

The Fact of a Body

Two Crimes, One Powerful True Story

By: Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Paperback | 8 May 2018

At a Glance


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Law student Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, working on a retrial for death-row convicted murderer and child molester, Ricky Langley, finds herself thrust into the tangled story of his childhood. As she examines the minute details of Ricky's case, she is forced to face her own history, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and to reckon with how her own past colours her view of his crime.

When Alexandria begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, and sees Ricky's face flash on the screen as she reviews old tapes, and 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.

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 The Keepers, 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.
Industry Reviews
[A] true-crime masterpiece . . . There are no easy conclusions in The Fact of a Body, but there are many moments of profound revelation. * Vogue * The most compelling book I've read in a long time - if you liked the Serial podcast or Making a Murderer, it's similarly addictive. However, it's also intellectually exacting and rigorous, rather than salacious. A very fine balance. -- Susie Steiner, author of Missing Presumed 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 * 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 * 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 One of the most fascinating, satisfying, moving, uplifting books I've ever read. -- Lucy Mangan * Stylist * Part memoir, part true crime, wholly brilliant. Bleak subject matter is expertly handled as Marzano-Lesnevich challenges us to see both perpetrators and victims from every possible angle. -- Paula Hawkins * Observer Books of the Year * An extraordinary book, weaving as it does the story of the author's own childhood abuse at the hands of a grandfather into the (also true) story of a convicted child killer on death row in whose retrial she is involved. It's a complex, difficult, essential read. -- S.J. Watson * Observer Books of the Year * 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 * Compulsive, eloquent and profoundly troubling. One of those rare books which embrace the genuine complexity of real life. -- Mark Haddon Shocking, chilling, unforgettable * Mail on Sunday * A haunting memoir of murder, revenge and dark family secrets * Sunday Times *

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