Review: The Fact Of A Body

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a MemoirThe Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Fact Of A Body
By Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Reviewed by Jay Gilbertson

This is a non-fiction duo: both an account of a murder and a memoir of the author’s struggle to come to terms with her dark, secret past. Never before have I read such an intense and moving and well-documented and breath-taking account of someone finding their way out of the horrors of abuse.
With some of the most articulate and stunning sentences, author Lesnevich takes you on not one, but two separate journeys that though they never intersect, they do influence one story while attempting to find reasonable justification for the other.
One of the dichotomies within the book’s structure I found not only intriguing, but mind-blowing, was the perspective the author was able to achieve when sharing her life growing up. She discovered that those formative, young moments of being afraid of the secrets your parents carry, can not only bind you to them—but can slowly kill you.
“What I fell in love with about the law so many years ago was the way that in making a story, in making a neat narrative of events, it found a beginning, and therefore cause. But I didn’t understand then that the law doesn’t find the beginning any more than it finds the truth. It creates story. That story has a beginning. That story simplifies, and we call it truth.”
And yes, besides having an MFA, the author is also a Harvard Law School graduate. She lands a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana to help defend men accused of murder, she (at the time) thought her position on the death penalty was clear: against it, totally and completely, no exceptions. Then, she discovers the case of Ricky Langley.
In the little town of Iowa, Louisiana, in February of 1992, six-year-old Jeremy Guillory is looking for his friends to play with. Joey and June aren’t at their house when Ricky answers the door. Ricky suggests Jeremy wait upstairs for their return.
That is one of the stories.
The other: “The whispers that follow are sheathed knives, fierce contained urgency. Voices are not raised; doors stay closed. Behind one, I am questioned, and I know to keep my voice low, that my parents do not want my grandfather, grandmother, or brother to hear. I answer simply. Yes, my grandfather has touched me…”
This is how author Lesnevich finds her way through something unfathomable. She does it with the facts, the truth—and something more. Using a writing narrative both arresting in its rawness and filled with a wise depth painfully beautiful, you are carried into her story.
“I carry the memory somewhere inside my body I can’t control, can’t even access to reach inside and edit the memory out. I still want to edit it out. I still want to be free of it. But I know I’m bound in ways I’ll never see, never understand. We carry what makes us.”
We carry our story.

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