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How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America Paperback – August 13, 2013
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"[How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America] is not intended to serve as "a woe-is-we narrative" about the difficulties of being black in America or the South...or even an attempt to illuminate the taboo-amongst-black-folk subject of mental healthalthough both serve as narrative threads in Laymon's writing. Rather, it's an exercise in recalling memories." Jackson Free Press
"Funny, astute and searching.... The author's satirical instincts are excellent. He is also intimately attuned to the confusion of young black Americans who live under the shadow of a history that they only gropingly understand and must try to fill in for themselves." —Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
"Don't miss Kiese Laymon's Long Division. One Mississippi town with two engaging stories in two very different decades. The sharp humor and deep humanity make this debut novel unforgettable." Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC
"A novel within a novelhilarious, moving and occasionally dizzying.... Laymon cleverly interweaves his narrative threads and connects characters in surprising and seemingly impossible ways. Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice, confusion and love rooted in an emphatically post-Katrina world." Kirkus Reviews
"Laymon’s debut novel is an ambitious mix of contemporary southern gothic with Murakamiesque magical realism.... the book elegantly showcases Laymon’s command of voice and storytelling skill in a tale that is at once dreamlike and concrete, personal and political." Booklist
Smart, exciting and energetic...the language romps and roars along through some truly wonderful comic scenes and yet the book doesn’t hesitate to comment seriously on questions that matter to human beings everywhere, not just in rural Mississippi.” Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine and Slapboxing with Jesus
Laymon is a brilliant young writer...this is a book that sings in the heart but challenges readers to take careful consideration of the power of memory. Like the best of Hurston, Ellison, or Bambara, Laymon’s craft flows on frequencies that both honor and extend the traditions those writers established.” William Henry Lewis, author of I Got Somebody in Staunton
"A little fantasy, a little mystery and a lot hilarious." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Long Division is one of those books that I picked up and just couldn’t stop reading...powerful, a classic American novel.... By far one of my favorite books." Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation and Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop
"Kiese Laymon is an amazing, courageous and brave novelist and essayist.... Laymon fiercely tackles issues of prejudice, adolescence and love with a swagger and confidence all his own. You rarely find novels this honest and engaging. Read this book." Michigan Quarterly Review
"Laymon’s voice is unique, a rarity in an era during which fiction tends all too often to chase trends.... At times touching, at times poignant, Laymon more than once strikes a beautiful chord in the midst of what often feels gritty and intentionally provocative. Those touching insights make Long Division worth the effort, and readers who stick with the story (stories, actually) will find themselves thinking about City and the people in his life long after they close the book." Chicago Book Review
"A curious, enjoyable novel...take[s] relish in skewering the disingenuous masquerade of institutional racism..." Publishers Weekly
The racial/ethical awareness is as complex as Coetzee’s, and Laymon is just as good a writer. Laymon takes some real risks. I love the interplay of spirituality and sexuality. Nothing sounds forced, pandering or trendy. City, the husky citizen of the imagination, feels totally singular and totally representative. That’s tough to pull off.” Tim Strode, author of Ethics of Exile
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Top Customer Reviews
Laymon has a voice all his own. He's just now starting to hit his stride. Where this voice takes him, and us, is a long way from certain. I can say this much with confidence: He has my attention.
Some of the writing is obvious. Young men of color are born on parole. There may no longer be plantations, and Jim Crow is no longer the stated law of the land, but the color line still separates and divides: The white world can swing and miss on the road to maturity; young black men cannot. We still have zero tolerance when it comes to race. Say otherwise, and prove yourself to be a fool.
How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, is a collection of essays about music, race, rage, self-destruction and the discovery of voice. I liked most of what I read, even when it backed me into a corner white men don't like to face. Tucked away at the end of the fictive debate between presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney moderated by Laymon are the following lines, spoken to Romney: "You? You were born rich. You will die rich. Help the country by teaching your people to be just and thoughtful losers.Read more ›
That being said there is something a bit off about the book. At times, the book has contradictions but he seems to say it is only because he is full of contractions (as we all are). This message is a bit lost at times. Additionally, the chapters are at time disjointed and could use a better transition. For that reason I gave the book four stars. I'm sure these problems will resolve themselves with experience. I will be watching for his next book because I am sure he has more to say and an excellent voice with which to say it. Well done!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved every page. Will be recommending it to friends. He has captured the pain and joy of blackness that very few can do.Published 5 months ago by S. Mccoy
Not an easy read, but a much needed one. I wish I had ordered a paper copy. This is book that you need to fullback and re-read portions of it.Published 5 months ago by Kamweli Wilson
It is the author's honesty about the human condition that is revealed unflinchingly that makes this book compelling. And worth reading.Published 8 months ago by Roy P. Russell
I wanted to like it so bad. I really did. But I did not. It reminded me of that one guy in college who you saw everywhere but in class. Read morePublished 8 months ago by ConcreteLily
Wonderful read - skillfully opening and examining those issues which are being politely swept under the carpet and ignored for the sake of so called 'racial harmony.Published 9 months ago by Roger Price
Just a great piece of honest writing about the experience of being a black man in America and the slow death that occurs in living in what that can mean.Published 9 months ago by Michelle L Burrell