The Fact of a Body Summary and Reviews

The Fact of a Body

A Murder and a Memoir

by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich X
The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
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Book Summary

This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, ten years in the making, shows how the law is more personal than we would like to believe - and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley'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. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky's childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky's case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky's crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn't the only one who saw her life in Ricky's.

An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, The Fact of a Body is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed - but about how we grapple with our own personal histories. Along the way it tackles questions about the nature of forgiveness, and if a single narrative can ever really contain something as definitive as the truth.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The writing is superb and gripping and never heavy-handed on the legal jargon, creating a moving must-have for any collection." - Library Journal

"Haunting...impeccably researched...Her writing is remarkably evocative and taut with suspense, with a level of nuance that sets this effort apart from other true crime accounts." - Publishers Weekly

"An accomplished literary debut…A powerful evocation of the raw pain of emotional scars." - Kirkus

"This book is a marvel. 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

"A fascinating hybrid of true crime and memoir, The Fact of a Body is intricately constructed, emotionally raw, and unflinching. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich has written a gripping meditation on memory, justice, and the limits of empathy." - Tom Perrotta

"The Fact of a Body is unlike any murder story I've ever read, a masterpiece of both reportage and memoir, a book that could only be written by an author with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich's staggering gifts: a relentless reporter with a law degree from Harvard, a poet's understanding of the cadence of a line, and a novelist's gift for empathy." - Justin St. Germain, author of Son of a Gun

"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 information about The Fact of a Body was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Dpfaef

Different.....
The Fact of a Body is billed as a murder and a memoir, at first glance I thought it was about someone who had personally experienced at murder within the family. But the book took a deceive turn. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich was a freshly minted lawyer when her law firm her assigned her to a death penalty case of a convicted pedophile and child murderer, Ricky Langley. Marzano-Lesnevich whom until the time was a stanch anti-death penalty supporter, immediately after watching a video tape of the convicted murderer wants him to die.

The book then takes on a strange but interesting twist, Marzano-Lesnevich begins to intertwine her childhood with that of the murderer. As she researches the case she is forced to reconcile her own childhood, giving up practicing law to write. As a child she was molested by her Grandfather, once her parents were made aware of this, they stopped having her grandparents stay in the house. Alexandria and her sister were told not to speak of this, her parents never directly addressed the issue. The book moves between her own troubled childhood and that of Ricky Langley, how society refused to acknowledge the problem the both faced one as the abused and the other as an abuser.

The book is well written and engaging. The subject matter is very timely as we now have a political candidate running for office in the United States Senate that has been accused of molesting a fourteen year old girl. He is calling her a liar and is continuing to gain support in the Alabama election which is unconscionable.

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Author Information

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, an award given for her work on The Fact of a Body. She has received a Rona Jaffe Award and fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. Her essays appear in the New York Times, Oxford American, and the anthology Waveform: Twenty-first Century Essays by Women. She lives in Boston, where she teaches at Grub Street and in the graduate public policy program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

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