THAT THING YOU DO WITH YOUR MOUTH

Thatthing cover web
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An Esquire Summer Reading Selection, and one of The Huffington Post’s “7 Moving, Must-Read Memoirs Coming Out This Year”!

In That Thing You Do With Your Mouth, actress and voiceover artist Samantha Matthews offers—in the form of an extended monologue, prompted and arranged by New York Times–bestselling author (and Matthews’s cousin once removed) David Shields—a vivid investigation of her startling sexual history. From her abuse at the hands of a family member to her present-day life in Barcelona, where she briefly moonlighted as a dubber of Italian pornography into English, Matthews reveals herself to be a darkly funny, deeply contemporary woman with a keen awareness of how her body has been routinely hijacked and how she has been “formatted” by her early trauma. Her story is a study of her own uneasy relationships with female desire, her tormentors, and her lovers—with whom she seeks out both the infliction and receipt of harm. This book is an attempt, sometimes self-thwarted, to break down barriers: sexual and emotional for Matthews, and literary for Shields.

For Matthews and Shields, the only response to the unspeakable is to speak, to do that thing you do with your mouth, as directly and honestly as possible. Their provocative performance refuses neat resolution or emotional pornography; it will have readers, from literary critics to Jezebel commentators, raving, raging, celebrating, talking.

Read the McSweeney’s book preview on the Internet Tendency.

Read the book excerpt in New York Magazine.

David Shields is on tour! Check here for more info.

Praise for That Thing You Do With Your Mouth:

One of the The Huffington Post’s “Moving, Must Read Memoirs” of 2015!

“This is no misery memoir: Matthews delivers a poignant, darkly humorous, and relentlessly unsentimental narrative about the consequences of intimacy.”
—Lizzie Crocker, The Daily Beast

“Don’t let the provocative title fool you—this book is about busting boundaries, not getting you off. In the form of an extended monologue, actress and voiceover artist Matthews offers a rare, candid glimpse into a contemporary woman’s psyche, as shaped by her sexual history. Raw, unnerving, and morbidly funny, Matthews, who’s moonlighted as a dubber of Italian pornography into English, recounts her harrowing journey from child abuse victim to determined and headstrong mother. For anyone who’s struggled to forge their identity after a trauma, Matthews’ book offers a glimmer of hope.”
—Jill Krasny, Esquire

“An insightful, thought-provoking probe into the impulses of human desire.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Actor Samantha Matthews and author David Shields challenge the way we think about trauma by changing the way we talk about it.”
The Rumpus

That Thing You Do With Your Mouth shouldn’t work, but it does. Not only does it work, it excels… . You cannot interject. You can only listen. And sometimes, simply listening is the most important thing to do.”
LitReactor

“Honest, raw and compulsively readable.” —M. Scott Krause, Vegas Seven

“Shields proves a master at this structural tight-rope walk, pulling together disparate bits into a story that is more impressionistic than a typical narrative, yet just as fulfilling.”
—Joanne Furio, Mary: A Journal of New Writing

“This book (this transcript, monologue, oral history, whatever you want to call it) hits a kind of sweet spot in that it’s at once like having a casual conversation with a fascinating friend and like eavesdropping on the therapy session of a fascinating stranger. Samantha Matthews is smart, sad, sensual, and above all, deeply sympathetic while being utterly unsentimental. David Shields has ingeniously carved a compelling, sometimes even gripping narrative from that thing we all do with our mouths, but that Matthews does particularly weirdly and well: talk and talk and talk. I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I began reading. I was even a little worried about what I might find. But I was spellbound from the first page.”
—Meghan Daum

“I read it in one breath. The book is hard to resist, slicing, as it does, through so many complexities of sex.”
—Samantha Hunt

“Memorable, gripping, risky, transgressive, and above all brave.”
—Whitney Otto

That Thing You Do With Your Mouth is extraordinarily artfully arranged; Shields does an excellent job of shaping a compelling narrative while letting Matthews’s actual content flourish. I also like that there are traces of him here. I was worried that his presence would feel invasive, simply because he’s a relative, a man, and implicitly a voyeur. Instead, his presence works in Matthews’s favor. Having such intimacy with Shields lends her a unique credibility and bravery. Their candid, even tone provides a steadying context for her experiences with the men who’ve abused her and the men and women she’s tried to seduce. I think this is extremely important work: maybe the least victimized account of abuse I’ve ever encountered, not because the speaker hesitates to call herself a victim, but because she is so complex and likable, because without trying to be, she’s so much more than that. It’s an incredible, thrilling, inspiring read. I love this book so much.”
—Piper Daniels

“To read That Thing You Do With Your Mouth is to sit behind a blackened mirror and watch as Samantha does That Thing with David Shields—meaning talk—winding deeply into her troubled, often shocking, always fascinating sexual past. Her tales are those of a dark Scheherazade, or an Ariadne stepping ever farther into her own maze, looking for answers, trying to save her own life. How many of us keep secreted inside us a host of sexual monsters who formed/deformed us? Samantha’s story is her own, but it will hold up a darkly fascinating mirror to many—and perhaps a way out of the cave.”
—Jane Alison

“[T]he overall collaboration is a largely seamless one, at times dizzying and heady, and at others gut-wrenching in the events it describes. It’s a short book, but its emotional force is considerable.”
Biographile

Check out the book trailer for That Thing You Do With Your Mouth: