the sellout-paul beatty (his-tory)

“That’s the problem with history, we like to think it’s a book-that we can turn the page and move the fuck on. But history isn’t the paper it’s printed on. It’s memory, and memory is time, emotions, and song. History is the things that stay with you.” (115)

“So like those high school white girls who have after-school sex with the burly black athlete in the wood shop, and then cry rape when their fathers find out, maybe Rosa Parks, after the arrest, the endless church rallies, and all the press, had to cry racism, because what was she going to say: ‘I refused to move because the man asked me what I was reading’? Negroes would’ve lynched her.” (134)

“If black people ever do get slave reparations, I know plenty of motherfuckers who owe Canada some rent money and back taxes.” (175)

“Unmitigated Blackness is essays passing for fiction. It’s the realization that there are no absolutes, except when there are. It’s the acceptance of contradiction not being a sin and a crime but a human frailty like split ends and libertarianism. Unmitigated Blackness is coming to the realization that as fucked up and meaningless as it all is, sometimes it’s the nihilism that makes life worth living.” (277)

“Taking my sweet time, because I knew that racist Negro Archetypes, like Bebe’s Kids, don’t die. They multiply.” (75)

“I understand now that the only time black people don’t feel guilty is when we’ve actually done something wrong, because it relieves us of the cognitive dissonance of being black and innocent, and in a way the prospect of going to jail becomes a relief.” (18)

i have been in love with paul beatty‘s writing since i first pulled white boy shuffle off tali‘s bookshelf during our summer of freedom. i had to come to toronto to access the rest of his work, but dangit, it’s been worth it. as i read over these passages again and decide their order on this mixtape, i’m thinking that perhaps paul beatty is my favourite contemporary american writer.

his titles and covers always remind me of the conversations that i’m not looking forward to having with certain people, and i like that discomfort that comes with doing bold work. i just don’t always want to be the one to field the questions. this one is next level, because in addition to the title and the cover, the plot of the whole book is one that is impossible to explain without probably finding out some things about whomever is asking that you really didn’t want to know.

i love his perfect mix of humour, awareness, and audacity. i always have.


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