Dyscalculia: A Love Story of Epic Miscalculation (Hardcover)
An epic meditation on loving yourself in the face of heartbreak, from the acclaimed author of Build Yourself a Boat, longlisted for the National Book Award
When Camonghne Felix goes through a monumental breakup, culminating in a hospital stay, everything—from her early childhood trauma and mental health to her relationship with mathematics—shows up in the tapestry of her healing. In this exquisite and raw reflection, Felix repossesses herself through the exploration of history she’d left behind, using her childhood “dyscalculia”—a disorder that makes it difficult to learn math—as a metaphor for the consequences of her miscalculations in love. Through reckoning with this breakup and other adult gambles in intimacy, Felix asks the question: Who gets to assert their right to pain?
Dyscalculia negotiates the misalignments of perception and reality, love and harm, and the politics of heartbreak, both romantic and familial.
About the Author
Camonghne Felix, poet and essayist, is the author of Build Yourself a Boat, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Poetry, shortlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award, and shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Awards. Her poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Academy of American Poets, Freeman’s, Harvard Review, LitHub, The New Yorker, PEN America, Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. Her essays have been featured in Vanity Fair, New York, Teen Vogue, and other places. She is a contributing writer at The Cut.
“Dyscalculia is a frank exploration of pleasure, heartbreak, and reclamation. It makes a case for softness, for lostness, for black girlhood, that rejects containment and asks instead for care.”—Raven Leilani, author of Luster
“Dyscalculia took my breath, grabbed my heart, and made me see. It brought me back to every heartbreak I’ve ever endured, and I marveled at Camonghne Felix’s deep knowing and even deeper articulation of the pain of loss—the loss of self, the loss of love—and the pathway back to healing and something like wholeness. This book is a gift and a miracle, and Felix’s pen and heart are full of the most beautiful fire.”—Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
“I am deeply shaken by the profound singularity of Dyscalculia. Felix manages to cast, and really conjure, a new portal into the agony of miscalculating love and the pain one can experience in loving relationships. Dyscalculia was not aiming to be the seminal book about the undercurrent of living and loving through Trump and the pandemic, but that’s exactly what it became for me halfway through. Everyone is trying to write that book and Felix wrote it, and so much more, seemingly without even trying.”—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
“Devoured it in one sitting–[I was] riveted, propelled, rearranged.”—Leslie Jamison
“From the first page the reader is pulled into the deep end of a powerfully honest memoir of what it means to be lovesick . . . [Felix] fearlessly explores personal childhood trauma, abuse, and the magnitude of negotiating pain and shame . . . A heartbeat ahead of the reader, Felix writes her prose as poet does, pacing a rollercoaster narrative of desire, longing, and passion. The National Book Award-nominated author reorders the terms of endearment by pushing the reader to question the orders of emotional measurement we are conditioned to consider as universal. Felix’s narrative is as much about the wounds and scars of what it means to love as it is about self-preservation as a political act for Black women.”—Public Books
“Felix recounts the implosion of a relationship in this biting memoir. . . . Her writing hums with coruscating lyricism, most notably in her depictions of the transformative effects of romantic love: Felix is ‘like an arrow in its quiver’ and ‘a werewolf at the turn of the moon’ as she falls deeper in love. Visceral and radiant, this soul-searching self-interrogation resonates.”—Publishers Weekly
“A poet’s tale of heartbreak applies dyscalculia’s meaning literally as well as metaphorically in order to understand a pattern of relationships. . . . In math, unlike relationships, ‘input begets output. . . .You give what you get. You get what you are prepared to receive.’ . . . Much of Felix’s prose, like her poetry, is carved out of granite. . . . A wildly smart, singular redemption story that is greater than the sum of its parts.”—Kirkus Reviews