“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
Here are a few things I’m reading now.
By the time I finished Laymon’s Heavy (which I read right after Roxane Gay’s Hunger), I had so many dog-eared pages, it was almost impossible to choose one quote for this site. But maybe it comes down to this:
"I will not say I am naked when I am fully clothed. I will not say I am sorry when I am resentful. I will accept that black children will not recover from economic inequality, housing discrimination, sexual violence, heteropatriarchy, mass incarceration, mass evictions, and parental abuse. I will accept that black children are all worthy of the most abundant, patient, responsible kind of love and liberation this world has ever created. And we are worthy of sharing the most abundant, patient, responsible kind of love and liberation with every vulnerable child on this planet."
-Kiese Laymon, Heavy
I’ve yet to read a more compelling first chapter for a craft of nonfiction book than Beth Kephart’s Handling the Truth. That chapter is called “Memoir is Not.” If you’re interested in writing in this genre, I strongly recommend eating Beth Kephart’s Handling the Truth whole:
"Teaching memoir is teaching verge. It's teaching questions: Who are you? Where have you been? What do you believe in? What will you fight for? What is the sound of your voice?"
“Slavery is not an indefinable mass of flesh. It is a particular, specific enslaved woman, whose mind is active as your own, whose range of feeling is as vast as your own; who prefers the way light falls in one particular spot in the woods, who enjoys fishing where the water eddies in a nearby stream, who loves her mother in her own complicated way, thinks her sister talks too loud, has a favorite cousin, a favorite season, who excels at dressmaking and knows, inside herself, that she is as intelligent and capable of anyone….For this woman, enslavement is not a parable. It is damnation. It is the never-ending night. And the length of that night is most of our history.”
Amos Oz was a prolific Israeli writer who recently died. He was one of the first Israeli intellectuals to staunchly advocate for a two state solution, and the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict make up much of his work. A year before he died he published Dear Zealots, and though these essays are aimed at (once again) addressing that conflict, much of what is written could be applied to any form of extremism.
“Contending with fanaticism does not mean destroying all fanatics, but rather cautiously handling the little fanatic who hides, more or less, inside each of our souls. It also means ridiculing, just a little, our own convictions; being curious; and trying to take a peek, from time to time, not only through our neighbors window but, more important, at the reality viewed from that window, which will necessarily be different from the one seen through our own.”