Body, Remember: A Memoir

Sometimes you find your genius in your wounds.
. . . Fries’ story is more than story of the ‘overcoming’ of his disabilities; rather it is the story of becoming a person who resists being marginalized as ‘other.’
— Riverfront Times
Body, Remember  Kenny Fries 248 pp. Paperback $22.95     Buy the Book

Body, Remember
Kenny Fries
248 pp. Paperback $22.95

Buy the Book

At 35, Kenny Fries wanted to discover what could be learned about the history of his body and the map of physical and psychic scars with which he had lived since infancy.  There was no scientific name for the congenital deformities that affected the lower extremities of his body.  “I know my past by knowing my scars,” Fries writes.  “They do not exist only on my skin, but remain inscribed on the cortex of my brain, the section where memory is stored.”  Just as his body had been reconstructed over countless surgeries, Fries sought to reconstruct a record of his disability.  He turned to long-buried medical records, unearthed family secrets, and revisited the echoing memories of past relationships.”

In this moving, remarkable memoir, we meet Fries’s family and neighbors in Brooklyn; his compassionate doctor; the brother who resented his disabled sibling; the men who awakened Fries’s sexuality and initiated him into a lifelong questioning of the meaning of beauty; and a community that prompted difficult questions about our world’s demands on human life and physical being.

Ultimately, Body, Remember, is a story about connection, a redemptive and passionate testimony to one man’s search for the sources of identity and difference.

“A thoughtful, insistent search into the poetry and mystery of the human body.  In examining his own history, Fries makes plain how deeply complicated memory itself can be.”
— Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

“A beautifully written, moving memoir . . . His journey from the safety of the shallows to a rich, loving, productive life is a memorable story.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A lyrical, tantalizing memoir, which has the grace and elegance of poetry.”
— San Francisco Bay Times

“An erotic, introspective, and beautifully expressive memoir.” 
— Detroit Free Press

“Fries’ prose is clean and even-handed, treating the comedy of teen sex and the social faux pas of well-meaning ‘abled’ friends with the same unsentimental clarity he brings to the pain of learning to function in a world which sees him as freakish.  More, in his deliberate chronicle moves the reader from discomfort to deep empathy simply by holding our gaze on the inalienable ecstasies of the body, his own, which Fries observes and tests with the passion of a religious seeker.”
— Matthew Stadler, The Stranger

“Here, at last, is a memoir that we can all use to chart the interconnections of our own personal body/mind/spirit histories.”
— Louise DeSalvo, author of Vertigo

“Refreshing in its lack of false inspirational tone. . . .To shape into coherence the raw material of almost unbearable life experience is always a form of victory. . . .I wanted to shout hallelujah.”
— Marcy Sheiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian

“A remarkable memoir.”
— Out  

“For Fries . . . the body represents a paradoxical landscape to shape and project [his} dreams of acceptance and redemption. . . .Every detail matters, every second counts. . . .His scenes have the power of authenticity.”
— Achy Obejas, Chicago Tribune (front page review)

“Kenny Fries is an encyclopedia of otherness—gay, Jewish, disabled.  Yet, as Body, Remember documents so fully, he is not the sum of these conditions.  Despite factors that have reduced the humanity of others, Kenny Fries retains, indeed develops, his integrity as a writer, a lover, and a human being.”
— David Bergman, editor of Men on Men

“A book that will forever change the way its readers think about ‘cripples.’”
— San Diego Reader

“Fries’ odyssey comes to life as a combination of unforgettable personal and physical experiences. . . . An essential read.”
— Chicago Outlines

“With a poet’s sensibility. . . . Fries powerfully and poignantly conveys the emotional truth of his journey.”
— Library Journal

“’The body’ may seem to be everywhere in contemporary culture, but those bodies—on billboards, television, the pages of literature—represent a very narrow range of humanity.  This stunning memoir, Body, Remember, demands that we not just look at, but also experience, a different sort of body.  In this beautifully written work—at times erotic, other times painful, always finely wrought—Fries evokes the complex richness of a disabled life.”
— Anne Finger, author of Bone Truth

“Fries has distilled his life to its essence, and the result is poetic in its ability to convey emotional truth.”
— Contra Costa Times

“Fries’ writing is reminiscent of the fluid, hallucinatory language of Kafka as he describes a world of absurd limitations and irrational conditions.”
— Seattle Gay News

“Fries’ story, although individual and seemingly very different from the stories of those of us not disabled, is in fact a common story, though uncommonly well-written.”
— Lambda Book Report

“Kenny Fries, noted poet, critic, and essayist, has produced a moving and memorable memoir of what it is like to live with a body you are told is less than perfect. Fries was born with incompletely formed legs, a congenital birth defect that had no scientific name but entailed multiple surgeries just to partially correct. In Body, Remember, Fries, with patience and forbearance, travels back through his life--examining medical records, family papers, his own and his parents' memories--to uncover how he became who he is today. Fries's search is, in part, a mystery not simply because he uncovers many details of his early life unspoken within the family, but through its charting of the discovery of his sexual desire and identity. While much of Fries's memoir is a beautifully written elucidation of what it means to be "different," its fire and heart comes from its author's growing sense of self and dignity as he examines and learns to understand the scars on his psyche as well as on his body. 
— Michael Bronski, for Reviews

Michael Fieni