Lucas Mann was only thirteen years old when his brother Josh—charismatic and ambitious, funny and sadistic, violent and vulnerable—died of a heroin overdose. Although his brief life is ultimately unknowable, Josh is both a presence and an absence in the author’s life that will not remain unclaimed. As Josh’s story is told in kaleidoscopic shards of memories assembled from interviews with his friends and family, as well as from the raw material of his journals, a revealing, startling portrait unfolds. At the same time, Mann pulls back to examine his own complicated feelings and motives for recovering memories of his brother’s life, searching for a balance between the tension of inevitability and the what ifs that beg to be asked. Through his investigation, Mann also comes to redefine his own place in a family whose narrative is bisected by the tragic loss.
Unstinting in its honesty, captivating in its form, and profound in its conclusions, Lord Fear more than confirms the promise of Mann’s earlier book, Class A; with it, he is poised to enter the ranks of the best young writers of his generation.
— Lord Fear —
About the book
“An ambitious, literary-minded memoir of the author’s relationship with his late brother, a much older heroin addict. Mann works on a number of different levels, delivering a narrative of addiction, memory, and family dynamics; of the attempt to see someone through the eyes and different memories of other people; and of the challenges faced by a writer as he attempts to fulfill his literary ambitions. Ultimately, this is a memoir about trying to write a memoir: the challenge, the impossibility, and the catharsis. . . . In constructing his aching, poignant narrative, Mann offers a fine meditation on fate and on how ‘the story of addiction is the story of memory, and how we never get it right.’” —Kirkus (starred review)
“I loved this book—an artifact of the making of memory. The prose is striking and emotional, and the excavation of the dead brother, the meaning of the life cut short, will resonate with many readers. Lord Fear is a psychological and artistic juggernaut.” —Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
"The book’s called Lord Fear, but its very existence is testament to its author’s fearlessness in confronting the twined, barbed wires of guilt and grief. Lucas Mann wears many hats in this memoir—journalist, stylist, Nabokovian explorer of sense and memory—but in the end it turns out that they’re all the same hat: survivor. Lucas Mann is a rare talent, and Lord Fear is that rare book which matches intellect with emotional candor, and the human condition is presented in all its nudity and terrifying nuance.” —Adam Wilson, author of What’s Important is Feeling
“A searing, complexly rendered memoir that is at times an investigation of the life and death of Mann’s heroin addict brother, at times a frank meditation on brotherhood. This book is made from the one his brother, a writer, never wrote, and is the book only Mann could write. A triumph.” —Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh“
This is a disturbing book, and a powerful one, for its honesty, its emotional precision, and most of all for Mann’s ability to probe, accede to, and resist the mythologizing power of memory.” —Joan Wickersham, author of The News from Spain and The Suicide Index“
Lord Fear isn’t just a book about brothers, or addiction, or bereavement—though it is about all of these things, in beautiful and surprising ways; it’s ultimately a book about one man’s fierce and futile desire to fully know his own brother. This is a gorgeous examination of what it means to love someone once he’s gone, what it means to love someone you wish—as Mann puts it so powerfully—could have felt better than he did.” —Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams
“Lucas Mann is the most incredible young memoirist in this country. And in Lord Fear, he’s balancing humor, incisive critique and masterful storytelling as only he can. Every now and then, you read books and know that only one person on earth is skilled and loving enough to be that book’s author. Lord Fear is that book and Lucas Mann is that author.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division
“Like the best memoirs, Lord Fear isn’t really about its author’s life: it’s about his brother, Josh, an addict who died young, and the ways we mythologize and grieve a loss like that. This book is generous, unsentimental, often funny, and always smart; Mann has a striking ability to wring meaning from each moment. To sum it up with something I wrote in the margins: Damn, he can write.” —Justin St. Germain, author of Son of a Gun
“Lord Fear is a hard book—as it should be, as its subject (a brother’s fatal overdose) is hard; reconstructing the life and death of another is hard; families are hard; masculinity edging into misogyny is hard; addiction is hard; remembering is hard; grief is hard. Lucas Mann heads straight into these thickets armed with an uncommon emotional intelligence and the capacity to hold great mysteries, fears, horrors, and sorrows in taut, gripping sentences. This is a moving, frightening, expertly written book that stands at the nexus of imagination, encounter, document, and dirge.” —Maggie Nelson, author of The Art of Cruelty
“This book is achingly tender, violent, bittersweet, and bold. Lucas Mann has told the story of his brother in so unpredictable and enthralling a way that he has opened up the story of memory itself wide enough for a new kind of memoir to emerge.” —John D’Agata, author of About a Mountain