Bleeder is a brave book […].  It becomes a tale of endurance, of strength, and how to live against the odds”
Renee Nicholson, Sundog Lit

“[An] often painfully beautiful account of living in the shadow of a stigmatized illness…. [Bleeder] is remarkable for being utterly, brilliantly ordinary. Memoirs of illness are often praised for their lack of self-pity, but Smoak also avoids the pitfall of swagger. …Smoak himself is at once emblematic and unique. …Smoak’s eye and ear, his lack of artifice, make him a true original. “Bleeder” is suffused with sweet sharpness….”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The story is lean and focused, swinging tautly from one set piece to another as calendar pages briskly peel away.  The present-tense narration roots us in events as they unfold, urgent and cumulative.”
—Brian Howe, The INDY

“Once you start reading Bleeder, the new memoir from first time author Shelby Smoak, you’re very likely to miss your next train stop, urgent phone call, doorbell—what have you. It’s that good. Shelby tells his own personal story of growing up struggling with hemophilia and then finding out on his 18th birthday that he is HIV positive due to a tainted transfusion in the 1980s. It’s one part medical nightmare, and many parts smart, funny and beyond hopeful. Snap it up.”
Glamour March 2013

“The pacing of Shelby Smoak’s poignant memoir Bleeder is as measured as a heartbeat.”
Sally Hessney, A & U Magazine (America’s AIDS Magazine)

Bleeder is a bittersweet autobiography and a story that is not often told.  [It is] an inspiring story.”
–Farhat Yaqub, The Lancet

“’Bleeder’ is compelling, well written, and nuanced. Here is a recognizable narrator worth spending time with through all the things that separate us from his reality, a true fellow traveler working and sometimes failing, but always remaining hopeful, to meet what life has in store. Shelby Smoak is a poet at heart and in practice, and uses his considerable literary skills to pull a reader in tight. Once there, we root for him, rail against the odds and the limits of medicine, and share in the hope that permeates every page.”
ForeWord Reviews

“‘Bleeder’ is an unusual coming-of-age memoir. …It’s a carefully crafted, emotional, compelling autobiography by a talented author and poet….”
Lansing State Journal

“Finding true love and graduating from college are difficult quests on their own, but try tackling them while living with HIV in the early 1990s in North Carolina. Shelby Smoak, a heterosexual hemophiliac and talented writer, did just that—and he lived to tell the very entertaining tales in his memoir Bleeder.
Trenton Straube, POZ magazine

“Like Tiffanie DiDonato’s recent ‘Dwarf,’ ‘Bleeder’ is very much a chronicle of pain.… At his best, [Smoak] can also be funny and wry.”
Star News

“[‘Bleeder’] is neither a plea for help nor a self-help book. It simply tells it like it is, in a way that hits home.”
South China Morning Post

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