[NF] Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon

[NF] Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon

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Kiese Laymon starts his book telling the reader that he set out to write “an American Memoir” but instead he wrote this book, an epistolary cry, addressed to his mother, about size, racism, family, place, and difficult forms of love. What does it mean, he asks, to be a fat black man from the American Deep South? What stories, histories, meanings does his body carry? What pulls him away from home, and what beckons him back? How does he, as a writer, use language to try to understand how to love himself and his friends? How does he choose to write for his people, instead of against them? Why does he think controlling the size of his own body will lead him to be able to control a world that was built before his body existed? Who is his “we”
and how have they loved and hurt him? What does it mean to write toward reckoning rather than redemption? We will discuss epistolary form, writing against literary expectation, navigating difficult questions of audience and power as writers and readers, writing triggering content, and how to write what we don’t want to say.