Why it’s worth it
Let’s keep it real: Who among us hasn’t dreamt of fighting somebody because they said something dumb? I’m black, gay, nonbinary, and have a Twitter account—meaning that on most days, I need half a reason. But since I was raised right, I can’t just walk around letting folks catch these hands, so instead I look for books that make me feel like I have. By this, and any standard, Damon Young’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker is a gem of a find.
From the opening essay about waiting to be called the N-word by a wayward white person (so he can fight them and be a man!), to “Bomb-Ass Poetry,” where he admits to writing truly awful Love Jones-inspired verse (reprinted—for funsies!), Young consistently interrogates, analyzes, and yes, straight-up reads, for utter filth, his earlier thinking and behaviors around the development of his masculinity. As a cisgender heterosexual man, he never exempts himself from his own contemporary, socially-aware critique.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker forces you, as a reader, to look at your own position in the world and hold yourself up to the microscope, but it does so lovingly and humorously. Boyhood hijinks abound, misadventures, basketball dreams, and like every boy, comedic overanalyses of the difference between gay and soft—all of which are examined, then cast aside in the quest to be a better man.
Get an early look from the first pages of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker.Read a sample →
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