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whipsmartPraise for Whip Smart:

  • “All memoirs are an attempt to follow a trail of breadcrumbs home, yet Whip Smart steps off the path, into the wooded shadows, and names that part of ourselves that could linger there forever. Melissa Febos masterfully brings us into these unexpected, unsettling places, the least of which are the dungeons she so vividly – briefly – occupies. Whip Smart is a wild, bright-eyed, ride home.” Nick Flynn, New York Times bestselling author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
  • “Whip Smart is remarkably honest, brave and provocative about growing up: the pleasures and perils of being visible, the temptations of being numb, and the weird kick of being desired.” Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone critic, and New York Times bestselling author of Love is a Mix Tape
  • “Whip Smart is that rare, lavish thing – a pageturner that gets you to think, a book that transcends its subject, a true story (in both senses of the word). It’s what you want. Lucid and slyly seductive, funny and sad, Melissa Febos is the real deal.” Darin Strauss, author of New York Times bestsellers Half a Life, More Than it Hurts You, & Chang and Eng
  • “In her provocative debut…Febos pulls no punches as she describes in minute, and at times horrific, detail her working life…In lesser hands this could be a maudlin, salacious tale, but Febos’s electrifying prose and unremitting honesty continually challenge the reader. Expertly captures grace within depravity.” Kirkus Reviews
  • “Febos’s debut about her four years working as a dominatrix at a midtown Manhattan “dungeon” cuts a sharp line between prurience and feminist manifesto…In this emotionally stark, excoriating work, Febos mines the darkest, most troubling aspects of human interaction.” Publisher’s Weekly
  • “Febos can really write, and it is the narrative voice she inhabits, at once honest and dispassionate, curious and even idealistic, that turns a timeworn story into a smart, provocative thrill-ride of a book…For all its jaw-dropping shock value…Whip Smart is, in the end, a treatise on the psychology of sex and power, subversion and submission – humanity.” David Goodwillie for The Daily Beast
  • “Memoirs about salacious adventures have two requirements: they must be generous with the goods and astute with the analysis. Febos delivers on both, and with relish. No salty detail escapes her eye or goes unexamined. Febos is too self-aware to not see her past clearly, and too talented a writer to not make it fascinating.” The Economist
  • “Melissa Febos examines, with frankness, generosity, and unexpected grace, the four years she spent working as a dominatrix in a midtown Manhattan dungeon…her revelations are often funny, occasionally sad, and fearlessly candid.” San Francisco Bay Guardian
  • “Febos’ journeying into the darkest corners of both her and others’ minds is entertaining and enlightening; there are weird, eye-popping, sad, hilarious, and all-too-human episodes and encounters on almost every page. Febos writes of her own walk on the wild side like a seasoned, and chastened, pro.” Elle Magazine
  • “[Melissa Febos] ably dissects her own and others’ psychological urges and sexual politics and presents it all in a way that renders the title apt. The memoir should be right at home next to Mary Karr, Nick Flynn and Alex Lemon on the bookshelf.” New York Press
  • “A fascinating glimpse into part of the sex industry and the world of sexual fantasy and role playing.” Terry Gross, NPR’s Fresh Air
  • “Melissa Febos does not whitewash anything in Whip Smart. It’s not just that she writes about, say, spitting and slapping…it’s also that Febos also has the insight into her own behavior.” – Slate
  • “Febos’ book was more than an amusing chronicle of shocking events. Instead, she meticulously questioned and analyzed the motives and driving factors behind her own actions, as well as those of her clients and coworkers. And this unflinching eye was at once empathetic and unforgiving – which, of course, is a difficult line to walk – ultimately making Whip Smart a rewarding and touching first book.” – Electric Literature
  • “Whip Smart is an illuminating read, as Febos strives to take a bluntly honest look at both the world of commodified kink, and herself.” Bust Magazine
  • “Even if you do feel the need to scrub down after reading it, the writing in Whip Smart is some of the best I’ve ever read from a memoir. Febos is a raw talent and I can hardly wait to read what she will write next.” – The Frisky
  • “Febos’ personality, which she transmits throughout her writing, is one of the reasons why Whip Smart is amazing. Like all great writers, Febos reveals an understanding of the world that one may have always been aware of, but never able to articulate.” Sadie Magazine
  • “Febos’ writing manages to find humor and pathos, switching on a dime as she carries the reader along…Luckily, we can expect that this is just the beginning for Febos.” Lambda Literary
  • “[Febos] is an incredibly gifted writer, and this book is nothing short of mesmerizing as it brings us into a netherworld most of us will never ever see firsthand.” – Holly Cara Price for The Huffington Post
  • “From role play to rubber costumes, Febos gives the reader a sharp portrait of this world and its emotional impact.” GO Magazine (for its 2010 “100 Women We Love” issue)
  • “Febos’s voice is thoughtful, intelligent, and down-to-earth, but her experiences…are completely out of the ordinary. Here, in the honesty particularly of women memoirists, we find the courage needed to walk bravely toward our own deaths. The answer seems to be in living bravely…In throwing open locked doors and honoring both the light and dark inside.” – Miciah Gault for AGNI
  • “A stunning debut, Whip Smart is a fierce examination of sexual politics and power dynamics.” Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Arts
  • “Mesmerizing. A brave, darkly wild and powerful memoir, Melissa Febos’s fearless journey through drugs and dungeons into the uncharted territory of true intimacy will shock, inspire, and leave you breathless. Don’t even think about resisting.” Rachel Resnick, author Love Junkie
  • “Melissa Febos takes us by the hand and leads us into a curious, disturbing, and funny world of a dominatrix, and she does so with often startlingly beautiful, expansive prose. That would be engaging enough. But what’s even more gripping is Febos’ fierce intelligence as she examines herself inside it. A must read for anyone interested in enlarging his or her understanding of sexual politics.” Kerry Cohen, author of Loose Girl
  • “Melissa Febos writes with lacerating wit and insight into the world of the professional dominatrix, saving the sharpest sting for herself. An unsparing, deep, and dazzling read.” Janice Erlbaum, author of Girlbomb and You Have Found Her