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After the disintegration of the most significant relationship of his life, the demons Luke Turner has been battling since childhood are quick to return – depression and guilt surrounding his identity as a bisexual man, experiences of sexual abuse, and the religious upbringing that was the cause of so much confusion. It is among the trees of London's Epping Forest where he seeks refuge. But once a place of comfort, it now seems full of unexpected, elusive threats that trigger twisted reactions.
No stranger to compulsion, Luke finds himself drawn again and again to the woods, eager to uncover the strange secrets that may be buried there as he investigates an old family rumour of illicit behaviour. Away from a society that still struggles to cope with the complexities of masculinity and sexuality, Luke begins to accept the duality that has provoked so much unrest in his life – and reconcile the expectations of others with his own way of being.
Out of the Woods is a dazzling, devastating and highly original memoir about the irresistible yet double-edged potency of the forest, and the possibility of learning to find peace in the grey areas of life.
Luke Turner is a writer, editor and curator based in London. He co-founded and edits the influential online music publication The Quietus and regularly writes on music, culture and place for a variety of magazines, websites and broadcasters. Out of the Woods is his first book.
"An important and moving memoir about the struggles of being bisexual [...] His brave, often poetic prose encompasses the pastoral, the confessional, and the erotic"
– Paul Edmondson, Church Times
"A compulsive and beautifully written debut: all those who loved The Outrun should read it"
– Caroline Sanderson, Editor's Choice, The Bookseller
"Sparkling with sexual energy and intelligence, Out of the Woods is both a timely reminder of the dangers of concealment and suppression, and a powerful testament to the redemptive power of – lovingly, determinedly – making what was hidden known"
– Helen Jukes, author of A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings
"Truly beautiful prose [...] the candour and insightful scholarship Turner brings to his subject make it a very worthwhile read"
– Grub Smith, Literary Review
"Out of the Woods is emotionally and sexually charged, deeply moving, with hauntingly exquisite writing and an extraordinary command of language that draws you into the depths of the forest and Luke's struggles with bisexuality, religion and love. Such raw honesty is precious and makes for a powerful read. I feel like I want to bind this book in wood and keep it in a special place for when I return to read it again and again"
– Cosey Fanni Tutti
"Achieves that tricky balance of feeling both deeply personal and totally universal"
"Turner mixes vulnerability with the sort of insight that comes only through a complex honesty"
– Sean Hewitt, Irish Times
"Out of the Woods is a brave and beautiful book, electrifying on sex and nature, religion and love. No one is writing quite like this. I'm so glad Luke Turner exists"
– Olivia Laing, author of The Lonely City
"Honest, haunting and moving, Out of the Woods envelops you in its leafy, sprawling pages, and squeezes tight. Captivating and poignant"
"A transformative, brutally honest memoir which is unafraid to stalk the monster that hides in the darkest of forests. Out of the Woods is like the Brothers Grimm adapted by Derek Jarman and it is easily one of my books of the year"
– John Higgs
"Turns the nature memoir genre upon its head [...] Out of the Woods is a book full of poetry and pathos. More than anything it is a bold and beautiful study of how to be a true modern man"
– Ben Myers, The Spectator
"Unflinching on relationships, the nature of obsession, lust, masculinity, faith and lost innocence. Out of the Woods is a very special book"
– Brett Anderson
"Out of the Woods had me hooked. Refreshing, frank, edifying, courageous [...] I was quite emotional by the end. Luke Turner is a serious thinker and a unique and important new voice"
– Amy Liptrot, author of The Outrun
"Out of the Woods is like nothing I've read before – rich, honest, humane and thoughtful, it is utterly original and really gets into the bones"
– Lucy Jones
"This is a book to get lost in [...] A disturbing trauma narrative, it's also a work of delightfully low, pants-dropping comedy, and a learned meditation"
– Sukhdev Sandhu, Guardian