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  • Writer's picturePatricia Grayhall

Two great memoir books by Melissa Febos

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

I found Abandon Me by Melissa Febos very compelling. For example, she writes: “The next morning the storm had grounded all planes…..We rented a car and drove through the next night, eleven hours down ghosted highways strewn with tree limbs. Near dawn, when we emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel, the city itself had been ravaged…

I glided across this new Manhattan, eyes burning with exhaustion. The world had lost its pulse, but with her beside me, it no longer mattered. That morning, I understood that to love me terrified her, the way losing her terrified me…I will take care of her, I thought. I will show her it is safe to love me. I will empty the streets of my life for her. I will become a city for her alone.”

Though her memoir written as essays is many things, it is the obsession she has with this controlling and abusive woman and the lyrical language she uses to evoke the emotional pull of it that really hooked me.

She has since written Body Work that further describes the process of writing that book and how the writing of it unlocked her inner wisdom that allowed her to leave the relationship.

In Body Work which resonated with me in so many ways. Febos writes that “writing is learning to know yourself again, to find your own agency,” I could completely relate, having recently completed a memoir in which I described a shameful episode that I had never revealed to anyone and never intended to reveal while writing it. Like her, I found myself awake to the retelling of many stories from that stage of my life and acknowledged the harm I caused myself and others. And like her, I also learned to love the flawed human I was in my youth.

Melissa Febos sets a high bar for memoir writers and I hope some of you will enjoy her work.


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