I'm Never Fine: Scenes and Spasms on Loss

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In I'm Never Fine, a collage memoir of essays and poetry, Joseph Lezza shouts in the dark from the backseat of a stranger's car, a ditch on the Italian coast, a forest outside the arctic, and from the bottom of a shaving cream can.

When Joseph caught himself wishing necrotizing skin infections upon unhurried retirees in the self checkout lane, and fantasized about loud-talking commuters making quick friends with the underside of a steamroller, he began to wonder if he was fine.

Of all the things Joseph Lezza could have been, he certainly wasn't fine.

The "fine" he'd adopted watching his father succumb to cancer was beginning to wane. It could no longer be used as a shield to melt the face off of anyone who dared inquire. All the "fines" prophesized in every article, every book, and every inspirational meme-courtesy of every armchair expert with a pulse and internet connection-had lost their value.

When Joseph realized he was facing a future that would find him standing over the carcass of an overzealous Costco greeter, one thing became clear: moving on required looking back.

This memoir is an autopsy of perceived missteps, a conclusion to unfinished conversations, and a reframing of flawed judgments through the eyes of a young man in search of a feeling. Search for that feeling with Joseph Lezza in I'm Never Fine.

"A standout piece of work. Honest and raw and heartfelt. [Lezza] drills down. He mines. He fracks! There's not one sentence here that takes the easy route and goes for a quick gag and an easy out. This is tough and true and so well considered. A magnificent achievement...This is the hardest of things, this is writing." Russell T. Davies, Award-Winning writer and creator of Queer as Folk and Doctor Who

"In his book, Lezza captures the ruthlessness of losing a loved one with such lyrical finesse. Adeptly managing to weave humor and banality into nearly every page, the reader is immersed into a world that feels so familiar. He captures what it is to love and what it is to lose that love. The result is a beautiful tribute, full of raw and honest humanity, that makes the reader feel a little less alone." Stephanie Wittels Wachs, author of Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love and Loss

"A deft blend of tragedy and comedy, these striking lyric essays are essential reading." Rolli, award-winning cartoonist and author of Plumstuff

"Lezza's debut memoir is a riot. With essays surrounding the life and death of his father and his own coming-of-age, Lezza has turned chaos into insight, anger into testimony. I'm Never Fine is a tender, hysterical, sharply-rendered and often surprising portrait of love and grief from a talented new voice. Joseph Lezza is a writer to watch." Edgar Gomez, author of High Risk Homosexual

"Joseph Lezza has written an at once gorgeous and gut-wrenching memoir about the loss of his extraordinary father. I'm Never Fine is relentlessly honest, vulnerable, and brave. His prose sparkles and swirls in time and emotions, never shying away from the cruel realities of cancer or death, but also reminding us of 'weird little joys that make waking up exciting.' I highly recommend this startling and stylish book to anyone who has lost someone they've loved so massively. With beauty, wisdom, and dark humor, he also gives us a blueprint for life, love, and loss." Liz Scheid, author of The Shape of Blue

"In his debut memoir, Joseph Lezza weaves a bold, fearless, and highly innovative account of a deeply personal story, the kind that can only be rendered by someone who has lived inside the dark contours of a life, and never blinked once to shield himself from the impact, but rather, stared it down long enough to take note. Keep an eye on anything Lezza writes, I assure you his is a name that we'll hear for many years to come!" Tim Z. Hernandez, author of All They Will Call You

"Lezza makes his grief corporeal in I'm Never Fine by molding the loss of his father in sickness and in death into profound and poignant essays. We mourn alongside him while acknowledging that grief is a shapeshifter that never leaves. There is a uniqueness and levity that only Lezza can bring to the page-where humor and calamity go hand-in-hand in a seemingly effortless way. I'm Never Fine is a stunning-and necessary-debut." Victoria Buitron, author of A Body Across Two Hemispheres

"Joseph Lezza weaves a necessary tapestry of family relationships, loss, anticipatory grief and the brief moments of joy that flash when we show up for ourselves as we show up for those who hover in the in-between of life-in-transit and death. Lezza narrates the various states of waiting and witnessing from the vantage point of a queer caretaker-these insights are vital as they are voluminous. Lezza's voice is hearty and full-throated; a voice that helps navigate the trembling waters of grief any of us have ever endured or have yet to explore." Raquel Gutiérrez, author of Brown Neon

Publisher: Vine Leaves Press
Pub date: February 21, 2023
294 pages
Format: Paperback