The Fact of a Body

  • by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
  • Narrated by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
  • 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 an audiobook 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. This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, 10 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.

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What the Critics Say

"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 best-selling Everything I Never Told You)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Memoir of Molestation

Let me start by saying that the writing style of the author was so deliberately erudite and MFA-ish that it distracted me from the stories she had to tell. There was never a tree, but always a steady oak against the yellow palette of the autumn sky. Not a filing cabinet, a white metal filing cabinet with each dent lovingly deliniated. Exhausting to listen to after a while.

Further, the reader is treated to a specific example of each feeling--a buzzing in my head, pressure in my chest, my limbs tingled--to such an extent--seemed like almost every page--that I started to get fed up and long for a simple declarative, "I felt," but it was not to be. I think people who like Elizabeth Gilbert's writing will find this memoir right in the sweet spot, but I found it hard to decide how I felt with all the overly descriptive, wordy explanations of the author's feelings. It read to me that authenticity was substituted for the display of a very expensive education (name drop: Harvard).

There's another rule that someone should add to MFA curriculums that would have helped me greatly with this one: leave room for the reader.
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- Margaret

Profoundly Depressing and Ethically Problematic Storytelling

The author has every reason to convey the awful reality of what was done to her as a child. And that's mostly what you get - an exceedingly drawn out victim narrative.

The true crime connection to Ricky's story is interesting but not enough to sustain an entire book. This probably would've been more effective as a feature article in a magazine.

Finally, the author take SIGNIFICANT liberties in speaking for others, which I found ethically problematic. She tries to justify her "imagining" other victim's and criminal's thoughts by citing trial transcripts, news articles, and a play(!?) ... Nonetheless, it's troubling to call these sections of the book "non-fiction" and I'm surprised the editors and publisher didn't hold her more accountable for that.
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- Scott

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-16-2017
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio