Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative

Catapult. Mar. 2022. 192p. ISBN 9781646220854. pap. $16.95. LIT
Like her memoir Whip Smart, Febos’s newest book is not a story about her body; rather, it is written through and with her sexual and physical experiences in such a way that it radically destabilizes boundaries between meaning, intelligibility, corporeality, intimacy, and so much more—all through the practice of storytelling. This is a book for both writers and readers who feel like their bodies are telling stories, even if they do not ever want to put those stories into words. Throughout, Febos shares her own approach to storytelling, with insight on what motivates her to write and what kept her going during the writing process of both Whip Smart and this latest work. Febos says that the path to writing about herself involved reflecting on her past—her years navigating addiction and recovery, her time engaging in sex work, and her studies in an MFA program at Sarah Lawrence before she accepted her current role, in the nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa.
VERDICT Wide-ranging in its theoretical and historical breadth yet intimate in all ways, Febos’s book offers the tools readers need to identify, access, process, and articulate hard-won stories of trauma and of love that their flesh holds.
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