Heavy : an American memoir

by Laymon, Kiese,

Format: Print Book 2018.
Availability: Available at 5 Libraries 5 of 19 copies
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*Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times , Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly , Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly , and The New York Times Critics *

*WINNER of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and FINALIST for the Kirkus Prize *

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.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* Often in his spectacular memoir, Laymon (Long Division, 2013) addresses ""you"": his mother, a scholar and university professor who gave him the ""gifts of reading, rereading, writing, and revision."" Laymon, now a university writing professor himself, recalls the traumas of his Mississippi youth. He captures his confusion at being molested by his babysitter and at witnessing older boys abuse a girl he liked; at having no food in the house despite his mother's brilliance; at being beaten and loved ferociously, often at the same time. His hungry mind and body grow, until, like a flipping switch, at college he's compelled to shrink himself with a punishing combination of diet and exercise. And that's barely the start of his life story thus far, with remembered moments in book-lined rooms and smoky casinos, conversations that leap from the page, the digits on a scale, and scrolling sentences. Laymon applies his book's title to his body and his memories; to his inheritance as a student, a teacher, a writer, an activist, a black man, and his mother's son but also to the weight of truth, and writing it. So artfully crafted, miraculously personal, and continuously disarming, this is, at its essence, powerful writing about the power of writing.--Annie Bostrom Copyright 2018 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In this stylish and complex memoir, Laymon, an English professor at the University of Mississippi and novelist (Long Division), presents bittersweet episodes of being a chubby outsider in 1980s Mississippi. He worships his long-suffering, resourceful grandmother, who loves the land her relatives farmed for generations and has resigned herself to the fact of commonplace bigotry. Laymon laces the memoir with clever, ironic observations about secrets, sexual trauma, self-deception, and pure terror related to his family, race, Mississippi, friends, and a country that refuses to love him and his community. He becomes an educator and acknowledges the inadequacies in his own education, noting that his teachers "weren't being paid right. I knew they were expected to do work they were unprepared to start or finish." He also writes about living among white people, including a family for whom his grandmother did the laundry: "It ain't about making white folk feel what you feel," he quotes his grandmother. "It's about not feeling what they want you to feel." His evolution is remarkable, from a "hard-headed" troubled teen to an intellectually curious youth battling a college suspension for a pilfering a library book to finally journeying to New York to become a much-admired professor and accomplished writer. Laymon convincingly conveys that difficult times can be overcome with humor and self-love, as he makes readers confront their own fears and insecurities. (Oct.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Laymon, Kiese.
Laymon, Kiese -- Family.
African Americans -- Biography.
Compulsive gamblers -- United States -- Biography.
Eating disorders -- Patients -- United States -- Biography.
Mother and child -- United States.
Publisher New York :2018.
Edition First Scribner hardcover edition.
Language English
Description xiv, 241 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 9781501125652
Other Classic View