Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper.
Our guest on today’s episode is celebrated poet and memoirist Saeed Jones, who joins us to talk about his new book How We Fight for Our Lives. The author of the award-winning poetry collection Prelude to a Bruise, Jones has also made insightful and witty commentary on contemporary culture his hallmark on Twitter and in online venues like Buzzfeed’s popular AM to DM web series, which he launched with co-host Isaac Fitzgerald in 2017. In How We Fight for Our Lives, Jones delivers a revelatory, incendiary, page-turning true story: it’s both a richly rendered portrait of the artist as a young man growing up gay and black in 1980s Texas, and a chronicle of Jones’s confrontation with deadly challenges that emerge from both within and without. One of the most keenly anticipated books of the season, How to Fight for Our Lives is a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and Miwa Messer, Director of the Discover program, spoke to author via phone about how he went about telling this unique and urgent true story.
“People don’t just happen,” writes Saeed Jones. “We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The ‘I’ it seems doesn’t exist until we are able to say, ‘I am no longer yours.’”
Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.
An award-winning poet, Jones has developed a style that’s as beautiful as it is powerful—a voice that’s by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir and a book that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.
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