Review: Abandon Me by Melissa Febos

Abandon Me (Memoirs) by Melissa Febos

Raw. Vulnerable. Intelligent. Insightful.

Didn’t I use these same words for her first book Whip Smart? Yes, and Febos has built upon that first book by offering us another look into her life in a way that is just as honest. Her gift with words and stories takes us into the darkness of an obsessive love. In Abandon Me, Febos creates a work that we can relate on one level or another. Who hasn’t lost/ found something magical through such an absorbing love? I’ve drowned and learned to breath underwater for another’s attentions even as my friends were throwing me a lifeline.

Febos has a fearless look at herself and it’s done with insight and intimacy. At times, it makes me want to put the book down and say, hush, hush, it’s okay. (Yes, my reviews are personal responses, not academic studies: I’m okay with that.)

The line between love and obsession here is woven within a framework taken from many sources. She writes about her struggles using psychology, historic and current culture, literature, music, and other influences such as Bowie, Jung, and Borges to understand her actions within a broader context. So well read she is that it comes naturally and it is easy to understand her references. There is fluency to her thoughts and how she expresses these links and echoes. The layers bring out universal truths lying within a complex lover relationship, her childhood, and a birth father that she builds a connection with throughout the book. As such, her essays are poetic and intelligent.
They are also heartfelt.

“If we break up,” I said slowly, “Everything you’ve give me will be ruined, transformed into shrouds of miserly.” I smiled.

Of her birth father: I was a curious child but I was never curious about Jon. Jon was Jon. She had known of him, her mother had spoken of him, yet they had never met.

Febos writes of finding him, her first impressions and how over time, she came to know or at least accept him as a flawed man and was okay with that. She developed a genuine compassion for him in her essays.

Mostly though, Abandon Me describes the stages of Febos’ flawed obsession with a lover. One that asked of her to make peace with a temper and mind that subtly controlled her: I didn’t care if I was right or wrong. I’m sorry, I whispered.

In this memoir, Febos once again takes us deep into her emotional struggles, seeing how desperately she wanted that love and how she was willing, or rather for a long time, unable, to say anything but yes to her lover, needing that connection, woken up by it in ways she’d not known. It’s addictive that love, that obsessive need and intense connection, especially for those who’d not yet known any other like it. The sensuality, the raw emotion, the incredible highs and lows, it’s all part of it. And when Febos writes, looking can by the truest kind of love, I thought of how she has looked so keenly at her own actions and emotions. I sense a deepest kind of love of self: She’s taken us with her, into dark times, compulsions, anger, loss, fire, passion, and come out the other side with a hard-won love for her own flawed vulnerable and heartfelt self. It’s quite a gift.

 

COVER-abandon-me

Review by Sarah Leamy.

Sarah is an award-winning author of the novels When No One’s Looking and Lucky Shot, and the travelogue, Van Life. She has recently received the Director’s Award from VCFA, the Vermont Book Award Fellowship, the Postgraduate Writer’s Conference Scholarship and the MFA in Writing Merit Scholarship. She writes short stories, articles and creative nonfiction. www.sarahleamy.com

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Awards! Contests! Festivals! 

http://www.greatnorthwestbookfestival.com/

The Great Northwest Book Festival just honored my book VAN LIFE as the Grand Winner of their 2017 contest! I’m thrilled and delighted! They’re covering the cost of the flight out from NM to the awards dinner in LA and even are giving me an appearance fee. Bruce, who wrote to me, wrote: “Congratulations on a fun and page-turning read. Definitely one of the most fun reads I’ve seen in a while.”

http://www.greatnorthwestbookfestival.com/ for a link to their winners’ page.

For me, entering contests and festivals is a chance to find new readers as it’s mostly been word of mouth, going to events, chatting up strangers and handing off books and business cards. The opportunity of a book festival award opens more doors, tells others that my stories are compelling and that self-pubishing works. It does. I’m doing much better for myself these days although I’ll be honest, it’s a small time business, locally focused.

My goal then for this year? To find an agent. To have a chance at getting my books known nationally and internationally – it’s doable since I have a small steady following of readers here in the US and in Europe. I just need to build on that. And I will.

Googling your own books is fun!

Createspace estore. https://www.createspace.com/5266256

In Santa Fe, NM: http://www.santafe.com/authors/sarah-leamy

On youtube, you can see videos of my home, animals, land rovers and even an interview! https://www.youtube.com/user/sarahleamy

Well, that should keep you going for a while, right? Thanks for looking! Take care, s

LUCKY FIND (2014)

PRESS FOR THE SECOND BOOK IN THE LUCKY SERIES, AGAIN THE THEMES ARE STRONGLY CENTERED ON FAMILY, GENDER AND ANIMALS ALL SET WITHIN A ROADTRIP THROUGH THE SOUTHWEST!

The novel opens, as any good novel does, with a cliffhanger that leaves the reader wanting to know more about Lucky’s circumstances:

“This is going to hurt.”

“Not as much as it did to kill my dad.”

Dr. Fletcher almost drops the needle in his hand and stares at me. I smile.

“Joking. Well, not really. But what were you saying?” I smile again, trying to reassure him. I’m not sure of what.

“Care to explain?”

 

Lucky and Mike, best friends since childhood, travel through New Mexico and into Arizona, accompanied by Blue, a collie mix. Looking for Lucky’s newly discovered half-sister, these friends search across the Southwest, including visits to Las Cruces, Bisbee and Flagstaff. The clues they follow begin resembling something an undercover genealogist might dream up. Over the weeks Lucky unscrambles the past, one that challenges stereotypes of family, friendships, and gender and lays a few good secrets to rest.

Meanwhile Blue, being a most generous dog embarks on her own search and rescue mission, finding a needing-to-be-bottle-fed pup aptly named Peanut. It’s the two dogs–and soon Blue’s tiny kitten foundlings–that give this archetypal hero’s journey a mixture of heartbreak and comic lightness.

In her previous novel, the award-winning LUCKY SHOT, author Sarah Leamy questioned the role of identity through Lucky, her protagonist, a character whose gender is ambiguous. Leamy also examined the meaning of family and how families constantly reinvent themselves, especially after loss. LUCKY FIND continues with these characters and similar themes in more detail through the humor of all those four-legged critters that keep turning up on their road trip.

In both novels, Lucky’s journey reflects universal themes of love, loss, and self-discovery. In the end, family and friends are what matter.

The connections Lucky makes—the characters who make LUCKY FIND so memorable—are what remain:

“I looked over at the photo of my dad. Henry William Phillips. I looked at this family of mine: Chris. Mike. Susan. They were chatting about other Christmas holidays they’d had over the years, laughing at Mike’s tales of Europe, and drinking the wine for breakfast. In this warm, cozy home of mine, I realized: I’m Lucky. Lucky to be alive.”

PICK A COPY THROUGH ANY OF THESE SITES:

http://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Find-Sarah-Leamy/dp/1625166397/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395680716&sr=8-1&keywords=sarah+leamy

http://www.bokus.com/bok/9781625166395/lucky-find/

http://www.foyles.co.uk/Public/Shop/Search.aspx?quick=true&searchBy=5&term=Leamy,%20Sarah

http://www.bookvoed.ru/book?id=6022485

Living The Dream Book Release!

LIVING THE DREAM: Jenny and Mark move to a small artist community in NM, dreaming of living off grid and homesteading only it’s not as easy as the magazines make out. A light hearted look at the Green and Sustainable Living movement as it plays out in the desert mountains of the Southwest.

 Living_The_Dream_Cover_for_Kindle

SARAH LEAMY won the NM/ AZ Book Award in 2012 and was a finalist in 2014. She is the author of three other novels set in New Mexico where she makes her home.                

Paperback and Kindle versions are available online.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Leamy was the younger boring little sister who suddenly left her English life with an honours degree in languages from London University and became a broke nomadic wanderer, storyteller and writer. She finally settled in New Mexico in her late twenties although she’s still taking extended road trips when she can. As the socially awkward and insecure Brit abroad, she lived first in Europe and then crossed the States and into Guatemala, performing, writing and working odd jobs as she explored new countries alone or with Daisy, her slightly grumpy Border Collie. She has lived off grid most of her adult life, mostly because she’s too cheap to pay some big mortgage for a place she could build herself. It seems to work for her, and her three walled adobe structure in the Ortiz Mountains is now a cozy, colorful insulated home with doors and windows and even a wooden floor! It’s heated by wood, with solar electricity, rain catchment, heat on demand hot water, and the various rescued animals appreciate the comfort. So does Sarah.

Since settling in NM her strories, essays, and articles have been published in numerous magazines, newspapers in London (The Pink Paper), Madison (The Edge), San Francisco (Circus News), in Vermont (Rovers North Magazine) and New Mexico (The Madrid Arts Quarterly), as well as in anthologies such as The People’s Apocalypse by Ariel Gore. Her second novel won Best Fiction in the 2012 New Mexico/ Arizona Book Awards, and was a finalist with her third, Lucky Find.

Locally though she’s become more known as the odd Englishwoman, a performer and storyteller, into building her own off grid home in the hills, rescuing dogs, cats, chickens and even donkeys, who now and again appears with another novel or article in hand.

“Leamy’s prose is lean, almost stocatto at times, and creates a series of pictures in the mind’s eye of readers. What another writer might need thousands of words to describe, she can describe vividly in far fewer words. Reading her fiction is like viewing a film.” Sandra Sanchez, Bookreviewer.com 

LIVING THE DREAM (2015): Jenny, a teacher from Olympia, WA moves to New Mexico with her musician boyfriend. They decide to give up all the conveniences of the city and follow the dream of an off-grid, sustainable and trendsetting green lifestyle in a small rural community. Just the thing to spice up their relationship, and it’s cheaper than having a kid. They arrive in the high desert, following the GPS directions, and struggle to find the forty acres and a schoolbus. Quickly humbled by how little prepared they are, they try to settle into a rather unique small town. Only it’s not as easy as the magazines make it seem, this off grid lifestyle that is.

LUCKY SHOT (2011):  “Readers who enjoy vulnerable, flawed characters will find themselves engaged by Lucky’s courageous attempts to leave the past behind. Leamy’s writing is solid, but the book’s tendency to jump between the past and the present can be distracting. Still, readers will ultimately be inspired.” Kirkus Review.

LUCKY SHOT was a finalist in the 2012 Dragonfly Book Awards and won Best Fiction in the 2012 New Mexico/ Arizona Book Awards.

LUCKY FIND (2014): Lucky and Mike, best friends since childhood, travel through New Mexico and into Arizona, accompanied by Blue, a collie mix. Looking for Lucky’s newly discovered half-sister, these friends search across the Southwest, including visits to Las Cruces, Bisbee, and Flagstaff. The clues they follow begin resembling something an undercover genealogist might dream up. Over the weeks, Lucky unscrambles the past, one that challenges stereotypes of family, friendships, and gender, while laying a few good secrets to rest. Meanwhile, Blue, being a most generous dog, embarks on her own search and rescue mission, finding a needing-to-be-bottle-fed pup aptly named Peanut. It’s the two dogs – and soon Blue’s tiny kitten foundlings – that give this archetypal hero’s journey a mixture of heartbreak and comic lightness.

LUCKY FIND was a finalist in Best Fiction in the 2014 NM/AZ Book Awards.

WHEN NO-ONE’S LOOKING (2010/ 2015): Passionate, funny, bittersweet, and most definitely obsessive, this is a story of love and hate in equal measure, a messy and secret affair that spans six countries and five decades. Joey is dying, but no one else knows. Joey reluctantly tells Paula, who’s been a close friend since the sixties. They spend snowy days sitting on a cabin deck in Northern New Mexico laughing together. The two start planning a Thanksgiving gathering in their small local town of Madrid, New Mexico, to celebrate Joey’s life. But Joey has a second woman of importance; Kat and Joey have been on-again/off-again lovers for the last fifty years. A random encounter at a tavern in New Mexico changed Joey’s life drastically. Even though they fight constantly, they always end up back together every few years. The two first came together in 1967 in Santa Fe, then again during the Civil war in Guatemala, the start of Glasnost in Russia, the Eighties in Spain, and in Britain during the late Nineties. Theirs is a love that almost kills.

“When No One’s Looking makes me homesick for the simple, hardscrabble, poetic life that unfolds daily in the Ortiz Mountains of New Mexico—and for the raw, fearless emotions and journeys of its people, as brought to life in Sarah Leamy’s protagonist Joey. It’s a story about the outer and inner landscapes that lead to love, to hate, and ultimately to wisdom.”

Carol Carpenter, Playwright. New York. 2010

BOOK RELEASE #4!

MARCH 13TH FRIDAY 4pm with music by OLD TIME ROBOT

 THE MINE SHAFT TAVERN Patio Bar, 2846 Highway 14, Madrid, NM 87010.

 

With information on living off grid, permaculture, gardening, solar and workshops for those interested in finding out more!

 

 

 

New Mexico Book Tour updates for March and April 2012

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Finalist in the Royal Dragonfly Awards 2012 New Fiction.
As interviewed on KSFR, KBAC, and appearing on:
GOOD MORNING NEW MEXICO (KOB-TV) on March 26th and NEW MEXICO STYLE’s Bookclub (KASA/ FOX) on Tuesday April 10th.
Collected Works in Santa Fe  on Wednesday 11th April at 6pm. Free.
Bookworks in Albuquerque on April 27th at 6pm.  
With her novels called provocative, engaging, challenging and inspiring, take a moment to read Sarah’s latest novel, LUCKY SHOT, available at your local indie bookstore and online for printed and e-books. 

www.sleam.com