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Particulate Matter


In concise and distilled prose, Lemus presents a collection of still lifes, landscapes, and portraits of a challenging year that threatened all she loved most.

$19.95 $14.96

What people are saying…

“A love story that’s profoundly rooted in the emotional, geographical, and sociopolitical terrain of today . . . Like song lyrics or snapshots, her wisps and fragments of language take on a coded and otherworldly atmosphere, one that conveys wonder and dread almost subliminally . . . Particulate Matter is a moving example of how to write about climate change, not didactically, but with the deep impact of both personal loss and literary elegance.”
NPR Books

“There are only a few words per page in Particulate Matter, but that doesn’t actually matter. The words Felicia Luna Lemus does carefully choose serve to paint a brilliant picture of her marriage, of a Los Angeles covered in ash, of dashed hopes and new beginnings.”
Good Morning America

“In Lemus’ first foray into nonfiction, the author chronicles a year in her marriage when the whole world turned upside down. Some pages are brief, containing only one or two words, but their emotional weight, and that of the entire book, packs such a punch readers will feel the sensation long after the end.” —Los Angeles Times, 11 books to read during Hispanic Heritage Month

“A tiny, powerful flame of a book. Lemus’ writing lands like sparks and ash, fragmented and tinged with grief . . . Particulate Matter is . . . an exploration of the simultaneity of delight, yearning, grief and confusion of being in love with a person and a place. Of being alive at all.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Lemus has a particular talent for engaging the deepest and most complex parts of the self with the simplest turn of phrase. Detailing the toughest year of her life, she uncovers meaning in the ordinary and the terrifying.”
Ms. Magazine

“What distinguishes Lemus’s book . . . is how the nightmare lived by one California couple became, in the summer of 2020, the nightmare lived by much of the West Coast. This makes Particulate Matter not just a memoir but also an oracle, foreseeing the present as we repeat, en masse, a similar ordeal, separated from loved ones and watching the sky rain apocalyptic ash, telling ourselves, as Lemus does, ‘I almost believe this . . . will end someday.'”
Alta Magazine

“An unforgettable meditation on [Felicia Luna Lemus’s] experiences . . . Lemus bears an unmatched precision of the craft. This succinct mic drop of a personal story begs to be read over and over again.”

“With playful and warm prose, Lemus takes readers into the most difficult year of her life and marriage. Set in Los Angeles, it chronicles her [spouse’s] sudden and serious adult-onset asthma, and the literal and figurative fires that raged that year over their lives.”

“A [book] about finding beauty in the most challenging and terrifying times.”
Lambda Literary

Included in Poets & Writers‘s Page One feature

Included in CLMP‘s Hispanic Heritage Month reading list

“Poetic in its use and economy of language, Particulate Matter by Felicia Luna Lemus’ [is a] slim creative nonfiction book [that] recalls a year in fire-ravaged Los Angeles (pre-dating 2020) when the author’s world was upended and the home she shared with her spouse was blanketed in ashes.”
Baltimore Out Loud

Particulate Matter is a woven together tapestry of emotive experiences, from the heart and soul of the One, that, taken as a whole, are incredibly heartfelt and honest entries that paint a picture of how we get through times that can seem completely soul crushing.”
Exclusive Magazine

“Lush and vibrant even in its sparseness, Felicia Luna Lemus’s Particulate Matter masterfully evokes the fragmentary experience of moving through time and space. Episodes flash by us, eliciting worry or wonder, defeat or delight. It can all change in a moment, Lemus assures us. Finding the lyrical in the mundane, Lemus’s lines pause motion, require the reader to consider what informs the impulse, what lies in the spare space between yes or no and fight or flight. These before-and-after moments, and the emotions that attend them—longing, loss, love, anger—mark us, accumulate, become us. Particulate Matter is a powerful exploration of the quickly changing landscapes—fraught, brittle, pensive, luminous—inside us.”
—Lynell George, author of After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame

Particulate Matter is a blessed offering: Felicia Luna Lemus shows us her fierce and generous heart and soul in gorgeous, tender, playful prose. Come tell me that’s hyperbole after you read it.”
—Elizabeth Crane, author of Turf


Particulate Matter is the story of a year in Felicia Luna Lemus’s marriage when the world turned upside down. It’s set in Los Angeles, and it’s about love and crisis, loss and grief, the city and the ocean, ancestral ghosts and history haunting. Nature herself seemed to howl. Fires raged and covered the house Lemus and her spouse shared in ash. Everything crystallized. It was the most challenging and terrifying time she had ever experienced, and yet it was also a time when the sublime beauty of the everyday shone through with particular power and presence.

Read an interview with Felicia Luna Lemus at the Chicago Review of Books

Listen to Felicia Luna Lemus read an excerpt from Particulate Matter at Poets & Writers.

Read a “Writers Recommend” piece from Felicia Luna Lemus at Poets & Writers

Listen to an interview with Felicia Luna Lemus at Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Published: 11/3/20
  • IBSN: 9781617758416
  • e-IBSN: 9781617758720


FELICIA LUNA LEMUS is the author of Particulate Matter, and the novels Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties and Like Son. Her writing has been anthologized in numerous collections, and has appeared in publications including BOMB, the Believer, ZYZZYVA, and the California Sunday Magazine. Lemus is currently the Visiting Writer at Pitzer College. Sharpie Ultra Fine black markers and crossword puzzles are among her favorite things. She lives in Los Angeles with her spouse and their wild one.

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