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BINDERY: Kiese Laymon / Heavy: An American Memoir
October 24, 2018 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
The Bindery hosts Kiese Laymon for his new book Heavy: An American Memoir. More details coming soon, but save the date and join us!
In this powerful and provocative memoir, genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse.
Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been.
In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.
A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood–and continues through twenty-five years of haunting implosions and long reverberations.
“A challenging memoir about black-white relations, income inequality, mother-son dynamics, Mississippi byways, lack of personal self-control, education from kindergarten through graduate school, and so much more. Laymon skillfully couches his provocative subject matter in language that is pyrotechnic and unmistakably his own … Far more than just the physical aspect, the weight he carries also derives from the burdens placed on him by a racist society, by his mother and his loving grandmother, and even by himself. At times, the author examines his complicated romantic and sexual relationships, and he also delves insightfully into politics, literature, feminism, and injustice, among other topics. A dynamic memoir that is unsettling in all the best ways.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred
“How do you carry the weight of being a black man in America? In electrifying, deliberate prose, Kiese Laymon tries to answer that question from the first page of Heavy: An American Memoir to the last. He writes about what it means to live in a heavy body, in all senses of that word. He writes of family, love, place, trauma, race, desire, grief, rage, addiction, and human weakness, and he does so relentlessly, without apology. To call the way Laymon lays himself bare an act of courageous grace is beside the point but what and how he writes in this exceptional book are, indeed, acts of courageous grace.” – Roxane Gay
“Kiese’s heart and humor shine through, and we are blessed to have such raw humanity rendered in prose that begs for repeat readings. We do not deserve Heavy. We do not deserve Kiese. That he is generous enough to share is a testament to his commitment to helping us all heal.” – Mychal Denzel Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching
“The abundance of Heavy is going to be a gift for many hurting hearts, in our time and beyond.” – Eve Ewing, author of Electric Arches
Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University. Laymon is currently a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of the award-winning novel, Long Division, a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and the forthcoming memoir, Heavy. Laymon has written for numerous publications including New York Times, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, The Guardian, McSweeneys, Colorlines, The Best American Series, Ebony and many others. He is a contributing editor of Oxford American.
Bar opens at 7, event begins at 7:30pm.