Mercy: A Memoir of Medical Trauma and True Crime Obsession
(Barrelhouse Books, June 2020)
When Marcia Trahan began watching true crime television, she did so in secret. She felt ashamed by her fascination with these violent stories, and how hungrily she consumed one gruesome tale after another. Only years later did she start to connect the dots between her true crime obsession and the series of invasive medical procedures that had left her feeling victimized and violated.
Can the body tell the difference between an attacker’s knife and a surgeon’s? This is the central question in Mercy, a question that leads Trahan to re-examine her body’s reaction to lifesaving medical treatment, the childhood experiences that first made her feel unsafe in her own skin, and the true crime genre’s most common tropes.
Part searingly honest memoir, part incisive cultural criticism, Mercy explores the appeal of true crime and the way so many of us live our whole lives bracing for an attack.
“Mercy is a bracing account of the perverse satisfactions of true crime. Marcia Trahan unravels the threads of her own fascination with stories of violence against women, and they lead to unexpected—and darkly thrilling—places.”
— Rachel Monroe, author of Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession
“Written with polished craft and sly wit, Marcia Trahan’s memoir Mercy offers the reader the genre’s best: a compelling personal narrative of peculiarly dark obsessions elegantly tethered to the wider culture. Mercy ultimately reveals as much about the reader and her world as it does about the narrator. Trahan’s gift for embedding ultimate questions within subversive reflections on medicine, murder, and marriage, makes this memoir a fascinating read from a brilliant writer. Lovely.”
— Kelly J. Beard, author of An Imperfect Rapture: A Memoir, winner of the 2017 Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award
“Mercy is a double-barreled narrative of health scares and murder stories. By combining these, Trahan highlights the fragility of both our physical and emotional lives. With surgically precise prose, she examines the push and pull of death – wanting one’s own survival while being drawn to the tales of others’ demise. This is a book about violation: the sanctioned violation of the body during surgery, and the unsanctioned violation of bodily harm. Trahan does a masterful job of showing how, psychically, these two kinds of violence overlap. In the end, this is a beautifully written book about being merciful. Especially to ourselves, which sometimes can be the hardest kind of mercy to give.”
— Sue William Silverman, author of How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences
See the list of memoirs that inspired Marcia to write Mercy, "What to Read When You're Living in a Female Body," on The Rumpus.
Watch the virtual launch for Mercy, featuring a reading by Marcia and her conversation with Savage Appetites author Rachel Monroe.
CrimeReads, June 11, 2020
The Rumpus, June 8, 2020
Catapult, June 2, 2020
The Brevity Blog, September 30, 2019
apt, October 29, 2018 online issue
Connotation Press, May 2012, Issue 9, Volume 3
Connotation Press, December 2010, Issue 4, Volume 2
"Bloodletting" --Nominated for a Pushcart Prize
Blood Orange Review, Spring 2010, Volume 5.1
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