In 1969 Kim Janik was a young man shining with promise—handsome, brilliant, studying at Harvard on a physics scholarship—and he was in love with Laurie Alberts, a troubled teenager from a wealthy Boston suburb. Twenty-five years later, when Kim’s naked and decomposing body was discovered on the Wyoming prairie, one photograph—that of the Harvard junior and the seventeen-year-old—was found in his abandoned car. This book is Alberts’s attempt to piece together what happened in between. An accomplished novelist, Alberts brings to her task the searching intelligence, clear-eyed candor, and narrative grace that have marked her previous books. She painstakingly recreates her turbulent relationship with Kim and traces the twisted course that led to his eventual ruin.
A story of obsessive love, societal upheaval, and the warring impulses of survival and self-destruction, Fault Line moves beyond the limits of the traditional memoir into the realms of biography and literary journalism. With interviews and letters, Alberts augments her lucid reflections in an effort to comprehend Kim’s life and death and her place in both. The result is a singular work that melds the inner and outer worlds with a seamless intensity.
About the Author
Laurie Alberts, author of the novels The Price of Land in Shelby, Lost Daughters, and Tempting Fate, teaches fiction and creative nonfiction at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program.
Praise for Fault Line…
"Exploring what role she might have played in [her first love's] tragic life and death, Alberts lays open her own life and youthful indiscretions, ultimately coming across as simply human. The result is poignant, if painful, reading. Highly recommended for libraries collecting contemporary fiction and literary memoirs."—Library Journal
"In this latest entry in the American Lives series, novelist Alberts writes a candid, self-lacerating memoir about her first love. . . . A thoughtful, wrenching portrait of obsessive love."—Booklist
"The essence of Alberts’s writing in this book is that she is telling the truth. Her use of metaphor allows readers to sense the story's stark reality. . . . Her descriptions evoke a sense of awe at the scenery, tempered by the rawness of Laurie’s journey of self-discovery. . . . Laurie reached within the chasms of her soul, and crossed over her own fault line."—Cheryl Freier, ForeWord
"Laurie Alberts has crafted her raw, devastatingly honest memoir with the language skills of a poet."—Rocky Mountain News
"[A] piercing memoir. . . . [T]his is an utterly compelling elegy, a courageous and remorseful confession, and a candid and affecting inquiry into responsibility, influence, and fate."—Donna Seaman, Speakeasy
“Fault Line is as compelling a piece of nonfiction as I have read. Alberts expertly weaves a story that feels honest to the bone and leaves the reader raw and bereft yet grateful for such a skillful and heartfelt tale.”—Robin Hemley, author of Invented Eden
“This beautifully written and unself-sparing memoir rips open the wounds of first love in search of what one person can be held accountable for in the ruin of another.”—Chip Brown, author of Good Morning Midnight
“In a book unrivaled in its precision of memory, Laurie Alberts describes a personal era marked by a definitive historical time. Her friend Kim’s peculiar expatriation and mysterious death inspire Alberts’s quest—even as they mark that quest as nearly unnavigable, a fault line running between past and present, its sorrows the margins, its solace the faintest, quaking epicenter.”—Abby Frucht, author of Licorice and Are You Mine?
"As non-fiction, the narrative gives a distressing glimpse of the less-glamorous, sordid world of drug and alcohol addiction that went hand-in-hand in many cases during a decade often symbolized by happy, pot-smoking hippies and Beatles music. As a memoir, "Fault Line" is a well-written atonement, a requiem." --Melissa MacKenzie, Vermont Sunday Magazine