" A] thoughtful and compelling elegy to a troubled man, a broken love, and a broken dream of the west."--Leslie Jamison, New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams
An MSN Best Book of 2016
Set against the stark and surreal landscape of New Mexico, Land of Enchantment is a coming-of-age memoir about young love, obsession, and loss, and how a person can imprint a place in your mind forever.
When Leigh Stein received a call from an unknown number in July 2011, she let it go to voice mail, assuming it would be her ex-boyfriend Jason. Instead, the call was from his brother: Jason had been killed in a motorcycle accident. He was twenty-three years old. She had seen him alive just a few weeks earlier.
Leigh first met Jason at an audition for a tragic play. He was nineteen and troubled and intensely magnetic, a dead ringer for James Dean. Leigh was twenty-two and living at home with her parents, trying to figure out what to do with her young adult life. Within months, they had fallen in love and moved to New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment," a place neither of them had ever been. But what was supposed to be a romantic adventure quickly turned sinister, as Jason's behavior went from playful and spontaneous to controlling and erratic, eventually escalating to violence. Now New Mexico was marked by isolation and the anxiety of how to leave a man she both loved and feared. Even once Leigh moved on to New York, throwing herself into her work, Jason and their time together haunted her.
Land of Enchantment lyrically explores the heartbreaking complexity of why the person hurting you the most can be impossible to leave. With searing honesty and cutting humor, Leigh wrestles with what made her fall in love with someone so destructive and how to grieve a man who wasn't always good to her.
Leigh Stein is the author of the novel The Fallback Plan, which made the "highbrow brilliant" quadrant of New York's "Approval Matrix," as well as a collection of poetry, Dispatch from the Future, selected for Publishers Weekly's Best Summer Books of 2012 list, in addition to the Rumpus Poetry Book Club. Her nonfiction has appeared in Allure, BuzzFeed, Gawker, The Hairpin, The New York Times, Poets & Writers, Slate, The Toast, and xoJane. Formerly an editorial staff member at The New Yorker, she currently lives outside New York City and codirects the nonprofit organization Out of the Binders, which advances the careers of women and gender-nonconforming writers through conferences called BinderCon. For her advocacy work, she has been called a "leading feminist" by The Washington Post, and honored as a "woman of influence" by New York Business Journal.