“Unflinching and honest…both timely and timeless” (Houston Chronicle), this extraordinary collection of essays by the award-winning writer of The Other Side—rooted in her own experience with sexual assault—pursues questions that strike at the heart of our national conversation about the justness of society.
In 2014, Lacy Johnson was giving a reading from The Other Side, her “instant classic” (KirkusReviews) memoir of kidnapping and rape, when a woman asked her what she would like to happen to her rapist. This collection “attempts to parcel out several knotted problems and suggests forms of meaningful justice” (Booklist, starred review). Drawing from philosophy, art, literature, mythology, anthropology, film, and her own experience of violence, Johnson considers how our ideas about justice might be expanded beyond vengeance and retribution to include acts of compassion, patience, mercy, and grace.
“The Reckonings is not a book about changing the world. It’s philosophy in disguise, equal parts memoir, criticism, and ethics…The twelve essays deserve great consideration, while you read it and long after” (NPR). From “Speak Truth to Power,” about the condition of not being believed about rape and assault; to “Goliath,” about the ways evil is used as a form of social control; to “The Fallout,” about ecological and generational violence, Johnson creates masterful, elaborate, gorgeously written essays that speak incisively about our current era. She grapples with justice and retribution, truth and fairness, and sexual assault and workplace harassment, as well as the broadest societal wrongs: the BP Oil Spill, government malfeasance, police killings. The Reckonings is a powerful and necessary work, ambitious in its scope, which “challenges our culture’s expectations of justice and expose the limits of vengeance and mercy” (Ms. Magazine).
Lacy Johnson is the author of TheReckonings and the memoir The Other Side, which was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime, and the CLMP Firecracker Award in Nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, TheLos Angeles Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, Paris Review, Guernica, and elsewhere. She lives in Houston and teaches creative nonfiction at Rice University.