Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon

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In this book of essays, which are a reflection on Laymon’s life, nothing is off limits. There are some essays that a broad audience can relate to but since his writing is so personal, there are many things that are not expressly stated. Several essays require some cultural awareness before you can digest them. Without it statements like,”We felt pride in knowing that the greatest producer alive was an uncle from Compton and the most anticipated emcee in the history of hip-hop was a lanky brother from Long Beach.” will leave you scratching your head.

The essays deal heavily with race in America and after reading them, those that think we don't have far to go may question that notion. Then there are some that may think this author is beating a dead horse. This is the type of book that starts those discussions.  

The writing is funny and it’s melancholy. It’s always forthright, to the point that it sometimes makes you uncomfortable - like you know something that you shouldn’t. Laymon makes assertions that challenge the status quo. Some I agree with, others not so much. And then there are times I asked myself why would he write such a thing.

There is a particular audience that would love this author and I wonder if they know about him. I thought the same when I read Laymon’s first book, Long Division. Thirty-somethings will get it his writing. Thirty-somethings from the South will feel it.

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