A review by hsienhsien27
How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon


So I actually got this by accident? I got a credit from Audible and I thought that I would get this book for free because that's what happens when you try it out in Audible free trials. So I thought that credits were free books, but turns out after you trial ends, credits are discounts. I got this for $19 and you know what? It's totally worth it.

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America is a long title and the audiobook is like 7-9 hours? It is narrated by a guy named Kevin Free. It's a collection of essays on being African American. It is about the journey of being Black in America, the suffering, and how it slowly kills you mentally and physically. African Americans have the highest rates of depression, diagnosed or undiagnosed. And I gotta say, this is a real powerful collection. I loved it. Especially the first essay. The whole collection itself, despite the title, has a warm heart and Kevin Free really knew how to read Laymon's words and channel every ounce of emotion into it, and he just has a nice clear voice.

Ranging in topics from pain to writing to Hip-hop, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America has little something for everyone. He covers the relationships between Black Men and Black Women, how Black women are often unheard and ignored, and how Black men silence them. There's one essay that consists of letters from various marginalized people in the Black community who are also unheard, LGBTQIA, disabled, those who feel unloved, those who feel they aren't "Black enough".

There's at least two or three essays about hip-hop and how it defines and forms our culture and reveals some of the nasty sides of our culture (such as misogyny, homophobia, etc) Although, I will admit I grew up listening to more Motown and salsa music, so I don't relate much to the hip-hop essays, like I know the hits, but not enough to know it all, especially since it's not my generation. I was born 1995, that's halfway through, I'm not going to pretend that I remember the 90s like most 1995 kids.

One interesting essay was on the trials and obstacles he had to go through during the writing of [b:Long Division|16129174|Long Division|Kiese Laymon|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361785714s/16129174.jpg|21954114] which I would like to get one day. The essay brings up the conflict with Black writers where they are rejected for writing about Black pain and being "too political," but at the same time are expected to due to the racist publishing industry's creepy curiosity for it. So Laymon says screw it, and lets himself write whatever. Based on what I've read in reviews Long Division seems to be a magical realist or Sci-Fi, African American Southern Goth tome and is compared to James Baldwin, Mark Twain, and Alice Walker. As you already know he finally does get it published.

The whole concept for this collection is living and surviving, recognizing pain and moving on. That's kind of how I feel about this. There's so much to point down that I don't even know how to write it out. And I always say to myself that a good book usually leaves me flabbergasted anyway. I also don't read much non-fiction, but this is a non-fic fave. I would totally read more Laymon. Like this was so wonderful and intimate.