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

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m five years too late in reading this book, but better late than never. Kiese Laymon is not afraid to spit fire, to point fingers, to get to the heart of the truth. This book is worth reading just for the essay “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.” Like this line: “I’m not the smartest boy in the world by a long shot, but even in my funk I know that easy remedies like eating your way out of sad, or fucking your way out of sad, or lying your way out of sad, or slanging your way out of sad, or robbing your way out of sad, or gambling your way out of sad, or shooting your way out of sad, are just slower, more acceptable ways for desperate folks, and especially paroled black boys in our country, to kill ourselves and others close to us in America” (45). Damn. I didn’t realize that Laymon was such a devotee of hip hop–a few of his essays dive into this passion of his, some of which went over my head. But his language flows as if it is supposed to be read aloud. So good. I wanted to read this book of essays before diving into his memoir. Glad I did.

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Writing Class

When I first started writing again this year, I asked a couple of writer friends if they knew of any writing groups in Jackson. One suggested that I sign up for the creative non-fiction “community enrichment class” taught at Millsaps, Jackson’s local liberal arts college. I immediately went to the website and registered for the spring session of “Creative Non-Fiction: To Tell the Truth.”

The class meets for 6 sessions, Mondays from 6:30 to 8:00pm. The teacher of the class is a local writer. I Googled her name and read some of her essays that were published in the New York Times, Atlantic, and other major news outlets. She’s also done quite a bit of writing work in Mississippi, including producing a documentary about an influential Mississippi journalist. “She’s quirky as hell, which is what makes her so incredible,” my writer friend had said about this teacher. I was excited to meet her. Continue reading “Writing Class”