This is an off-cycle newsletter. My bad.
It must be pretty important.
My latest book, THICK: And Other Essays, was officially released yesterday. I felt the need to tell you that.
It may seem like this book has been out for weeks. There were tweets and then there were advanced reader copies (ARCs), early reviews, more tweets and even a bootleg copy or two floating around. But, right now is the Real Deal Holyfield. The book can be bought most anywhere books are sold, downloaded to your e-reader immediately, and checked out at your local woke library. Only the woke libraries. Normie libraries still tripping:
Yes, I check the package. I’m a savage.
I will not bore you to death with book details. We are not that kind of party. On occasion I will share some news or reflect on the process. That is all fair game.
So far, the release has gone amazingly well. The book is on more than a half dozen “Lists” - to be read, gotta read, ooh girl you betta read - and I am flattered by each.
THICK has been highly anticipated from all corners including the Washington Post(“What Books to Read in January”), BuzzFeed, BUST, LitHub, BookRiot, Bustle (“10 Best Nonfiction Books coming out in January”), Entertainment Weekly.com and many more
I am especially pleased by the notes from black women of all ages who hit me up in their Instagram stories, in Twitter DMs, on Facebook and via email saying that they feel seen. When people ask me what I hoped this book would do, that is precisely it. I wanted black women to feel seen:
Now, this book right here is the book I see myself reading when I am old and grey and still going “you’ve got that right!” It is in essay form, but does not shy away from a stark memoir. Honestly speaking, it is what it is, and that’s unapologetic, true, bold, harsh, nostalgic-and just like the title, it is thick! I would review this book everyday if it were up to me, because it is not the kind that you read and turn the page.
It is profound in calling out the stereotypes we subscribe to, our perceptions, our socio-economic status and as a young black woman, what’s written herein is something I have experienced yet I am miles away in another continent.
I also have a super secret plot to make Professionally Smart People engage with black women thinkers for publics. So far the plot involves duct tape and Twitter threads. I am a woman with a very particular set of skills.
John Warner’s review (or, is it more of a coronation?) in the Chicago Tribune suggests that it is entirely possible for non-black women to do exactly that:
In a glowing review entitled “The author you need to read now: Tressie McMillan Cottom" the Chicago Tribune says "Cottom’s intersectionality is merely the work of a writer seeing the world clearly and deeply, and connecting the dots in fresh and revealing ways."
I generally believe that Chicago wants to kill me. One of my biggest and potentially most devastating social media fights happened with a Chicago cabal. Consequently, I assume everyone from there is trying to kill me or trying to get someone to kill me. Such a significant nod to my body of work in a Chicago paper is making me reconsider.
There aren’t any Chicago dates on my travel calendar for THICK so far but we have more than a few set up for some major cities that may be near you. If you plan to come out to an event, please let me know #onhere so we can maybe say hi. Biggies include:
On 2/27 at the Hammer Museum with Roxane Gay for what Tressie informally calls the “Bad Bitches” tour.
On 3/21 for the Virginia Festival of the Book, Tressie will be in conversation w/the delightful Ashley C. Ford.
For the Montclair Literary Festival on 3/23 Glory Edim, founder of Well-Read Black Girl will interview Tressie.
Lauren and I are also working pretty hard to fit in locally-owned bookstores. You can keep up with those dates as we get them set by checking out the book’s website: www.thickthebook.com.
If you are on the fence about this whole essay collection thing, I understand. Test drive it by reading a couple of excerpts; see how it feels to you. Medium.com ran an excerpt on class and social reproduction this week. And, Time magazine published an excerpt on race, class, gender and structural vulnerability.
That second excerpt is from one of the more challenging essays in the book. I do not write about trauma. That is a thing. It is a fine thing. It is not my thing. A friend recently told me that I cannot hide in plain sight forever and I have been considering if he has a point.
I have been a dozen characters over my lifetime. An ingenue, a prodigy, a misfit - just to name a few. But I have only been two people: Before and After the trauma of losing my daughter. Everything about me that inspires people so much now was earned in the fire of that personal hell. It is not a special hell in that we all have our own but in our own way. It is my hell, however, and for that it is meaningful. If I am brave or confident or mature or bold or caring or compassionate, it is because I was broken and lived to have an afterlife.
That kind of devastation changes who you are. It also gives you a chance to decide who you will become. I decided that I would be someone worthy of having had a brief chance at loving my own child.
Over the coming weeks, I will work hard at being seen as I talk about this book across the country. The wound has scabbed. But, I will never feel comfortable trading on the story of my loss purely for personal gain. That is why I de-center the trauma to focus on the culture that produced it. It is why I raise money for bail funds and tag other black women writers and direct all of my events to black-owned businesses. If your hell was only ever about you then it was a hell of your own making. I want to be better than that.
If you are able, maybe set your DVR for The Daily Show next week. That’s a hint.
As always, thanks for hanging in there for the ride.