Geography of the Heart

Geography of the Heart: A Memoir by Fenton JohnsonA Memoir

Scribner / Washington Square

“Remarkable . . . a glowing, fine-grained tapestry that illuminates Johnson’s life with Rose, and places their love and travails in a larger context.”
   — San Jose Mercury News

An unforgettable book about the transformative power of love — how it makes us into the bravest and best persons we are capable of being.  With grace and affection, Johnson recounts the history of “how I fell in love, how I came to be with someone else, how he came to death and how I helped, how in the end love enables us to continue beyond death.”  At the same time, Johnson interweaves two stories:  his own upbringing as the youngest of a Kentucky whiskey maker’s nine children, and that of his lover Larry Rose, the only child of German Jews, survivors of the Holocaust.  This memoir affirms and embraces the mysterious workings of joy and grief, love and loss in our lives.

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Praise from Readers and Reviewers

Fenton Johnson’s exquisitely written memoir will teach you more than any 50 self-help books. He dispenses no advice, but his book will give you wisdom and courage, no matter how different you think your story is from his. . . .  In their three years together, they lived a lifetime of profound emotional connection. You’ll leave this book wanting to bring your best and bravest self into your own relationship — not later, but now. [listen to audio review]
   — Harriet Lerner, All Things Considered, NPR

Geography of the Heart abounds with love . . . along with Paul Monette’s Borrowed Time, Johnson’s book will surely stand as one of the most powerful additions to this poignant genre.”
   — Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Heartbreaking . . . profoundly sad, and yet somehow hopeful . . . Geography of the Heart takes the shape and sudden trajectory of a novel.”
   — Newsday

“A lyrical memoir . . . that marries Johnson’s eye for detail with graceful writing.” — New York Times Book Review   “A beautiful weave of fear and awakening, love and grief — brilliant, funny, sad, and riveting.”
   — Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies  

Fenton Johnson has done, in Geography of the Heart, something that I have failed to see in memoirs that sold more and had a higher profile upon publication. He has brought us on a journey, yes, but with a purpose larger than exploring strange characters or landscapes. Through the death — and the life — of his partner, Larry Rose, he learned what it was to be human within a world of others. How to share, to cherish, to give, and to need. This memoir is both an act of redemption for Johnson, but even more so, he shares the possibility of redemption with his readers. All we have to do is be available to the possibilities around us . . . This is a timeless and BEAUTIFULLY written book. It is what memoir should seek to be. More than story.  Transcendent.
   — Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones

“This is a remarkable memoir, touching, funny, searing, eloquent, beautifully alive.”
   — Publishers Weekly