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Heavy by Kiese Laymon Read Online (FREE)

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon Read Online

Read Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon online free here.

 

. . . cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.

—Toni Cade Bambara, The Salt Eaters

 

BEEN
I did not want to write to you. I wanted to write a lie. I did not want to write honestly about black lies, black thighs, black loves, black laughs, black foods, black addictions, black stretch marks, black dollars, black words, black abuses, black blues, black belly buttons, black wins, black beens, black bends, black consent, black parents, or black children. I did not want to write about us. I wanted to write an American memoir.

I wanted to write a lie.

I wanted to do that old black work of pandering and lying to folk who pay us to pander and lie to them every day. I wanted to write about our families’ relationships to simple carbohydrates, deep-fried meats, and high-fructose corn syrup. I wanted the book to begin with my weighing 319 pounds and end with my weighing 165 pounds. I wanted to pepper the book with acerbic warnings to us fat black folk in the Deep South and saccharine sentimental exhortations from Grandmama. I did not want you to laugh.

I wanted to write a lie.

I wanted to write about how fundamental present black fathers, responsible black mothers, magical black grandmothers, and perfectly disciplined black children are to our liberation. I wanted to center a something, a someone who wants us dead and dishonest. I wanted white Americans, who have proven themselves even more unwilling to confront their lies, to reconsider how their lies limit our access to good love, healthy choices, and second chances. I wanted the book to begin and end with the assumption that if white Americans reckoned with their insatiable appetites for black American suffering, and we reckoned with our insatiable appetites for unhealthy food, we could all be ushered into a reformed era of American prosperity. I wanted to create a fantastic literary spectacle. I wanted that literary spectacle to ask nothing of you, Grandmama, or me other than our adherence to a low-carb diet, limited sugar, weight lifting, twelve thousand steps a day, gallons of water, and no eating after midnight. I wanted you to promise. I did not want you to remember.

I wanted to write a lie.

I wanted that lie to be titillating.

I wrote that lie.

It was titillating.

You would have loved it.

I discovered nothing.

You would have loved it.

I started over and wrote what we hoped I’d forget.

I was eleven years old, five-nine, 208 pounds when you told me to stand still and act like your husband. You’d just given me your daddy’s musty brown brim, five dollars, and the directive to play the slot machine next to yours. We were under the stars on the Vegas Strip celebrating the only Christmas we’d ever spent away from Grandmama’s shotgun house in Forest, Mississippi. Instead of sliding my five dollars in the machine, I put the money in the pocket of my Raiders Starter jacket. After four pulls, I remember 260 quarters splashing the tin catcher in front of you. We looked over our right shoulders. We looked over our left shoulders. We got on our knees. We raked more quarters than I’d ever seen into that warped white cup.