What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker

A Memoir in Essays

Book - 2019 | First edition.
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For Damon Young, existing while Black is an extreme sport. The act of possessing black skin while searching for space to breathe in America is enough to induce a ceaseless state of angst where questions such as "How should I react here, as a professional black person?" and "Will this white person's potato salad kill me?" are forever relevant. What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker chronicles Young's efforts to survive while battling and making sense of the various neuroses his country has given him. It's a condition that's sometimes stretched to absurd limits, provoking the angst that made him question if he was any good at the "being straight" thing, as if his sexual orientation was something he could practice and get better at, like a crossover dribble move or knitting; creating the farce where, as a teen, he wished for a white person to call him a racial slur just so he could fight him and have a great story about it; and generating the surreality of watching gentrification transform his Pittsburgh neighborhood from predominantly Black to "Portlandia . . . but with Pierogies." And, at its most devastating, it provides him reason to believe that his mother would be alive today if she were white. From one of our most respected cultural observers, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker is a hilarious and honest debut that is both a celebration of the idiosyncrasies and distinctions of Blackness and a critique of white supremacy and how we define masculinity.
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780062684301
Branch Call Number: BIO YOUNG YOUNG
Characteristics: 307 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Damon Young crafts a poignant memoir on the experience of being black in America through a series of essays filled with dark humor, critical self-reflection, and authenticity.

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May 20, 2020

Author grew up less than two hours from where I was raised. His story is vastly different than mine yet in some ways not that different. Gave me a new perspective. Also, very funny.

PimaLib_NormS Feb 06, 2020

The issue of race in America is so touchy, so volatile, I feel as though I may be stepping into a minefield, but here goes. Damon Young has written a provocative new memoir in essays, titled: “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker”. Given my whiter than white ancestry, and the pale visage I see in the mirror, I’m guessing that I am not among those for whom the book was written. But, so what? I thought it might be interesting. And, it was. The plain truth is that I will never know how it feels to Exist While Black in America. I can confidently take a check into a bank for cash or deposit and not worry that a bank employee will make up a reason to call the police on me. For some Americans, racism, whether overt or subtle, is a fact of daily life. For sure, reading “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker” was a learning experience, if only because it was written from a completely different perspective than my own. I must say, though, there were a few opinions and ideas expressed in the book that caused me to think, “Nope. Can’t agree with that.” But, that’s okay. Damon Young is certainly free to believe whatever he wants, just as I am free to disagree with him. However, I want to understand, as best I can. So, I read his book. Maybe everyone should. After all, how much understanding can be achieved by reading only about what you already know?

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Dec 30, 2019

I am not the intended audience of this book...but I LEARNED from it, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

Aug 20, 2019

I’ve been a fan of this author from VSB for some time now. His writing is insightful and personal, giving a glimpse of his own personal experiences navigating life in these United States. The essays included in this book follow a narrative that moves from childhood to college to coping with parental death and then a newborn baby. Highly recommend this book.


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