A History of My Brief Body

A History of My Brief Body

by Billy-Ray Belcourt


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* A Best Book of 2020 —Kirkus Reviews, Book Riot, CBC, Globe and Mail, Largehearted Boy.

"Stunning... Happiness, this beautiful book says, is the ultimate act of resistance." —Michelle Hart, O, The Oprah Magazine
The youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize mines his personal history in a brilliant new essay collection seeking to reconcile the world he was born into with the world that could be.

For readers of Ocean Vuong and Maggie Nelson and fans of Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, A History of My Brief Body is a brave, raw, and fiercely intelligent collection of essays and vignettes on grief, colonial violence, joy, love, and queerness.

Billy-Ray Belcourt’s debut memoir opens with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile First Nation. Piece by piece, Billy-Ray’s writings invite us to unpack and explore the big and broken world he inhabits every day, in all its complexity and contradiction: a legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it; first loves and first loves lost; sexual exploration and intimacy; the act of writing as a survival instinct and a way to grieve. What emerges is not only a profound meditation on memory, gender, anger, shame, and ecstasy, but also the outline of a way forward. With startling honesty, and in a voice distinctly and assuredly his own, Belcourt situates his life experiences within a constellation of seminal queer texts, among which this book is sure to earn its place. Eye-opening, intensely emotional, and excessively quotable, A History of My Brief Body demonstrates over and over again the power of words to both devastate and console us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781937512934
Publisher: Two Dollar Radio
Publication date: 07/14/2020
Pages: 142
Sales rank: 152,923
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 17 - 18 Years

About the Author

Billy-Ray Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is Canada’s first First Nations Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of the poetry collections NDN Coping Mechanisms and This Wound Is a World, which was awarded the 2018 Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize, the 2018 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize, and a 2018 Indigenous Voices Award. In 2018, Belcourt was named by CBC Books as one of “14 Canadian poets to watch,” one of “18 emerging writers to watch,” a “Writer to know,” and one of “ten young Canadians to watch” by the CBC. A History of My Brief Body marks his non-fiction debut.

Table of Contents

Preface: A Letter to Nôhkom 3

Introduction: A Short Theoretical Note 7

An NDN Boyhood 11

A History of My Brief Body 23

Futuromania 33

Gay: 8 Scenes 49

Loneliness in the Age of Grindr 59

Fragments from a Half-Existence 67

An Alphabet of Longing 79

Robert 89

Notes from an Archive of Injuries 99

Please Keep Loving: Reflections on Unlivability 103

Fatal Naming Rituals 113

To Hang Our Grief Up to Dry 119

Acknowledgments 131

Notes 133

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Billy-Ray Belcourt's moving and important book A History of My Brief Body dazzles in its quest to prove 'Joy is art is an ethics of resistance.' Not quite memoir, not quite poetry, not quite novel, this dizzying and intelligent book traces a queer NDN coming-of-age with equal parts search and insight. The book draws inspiration from the likes of Claudia Rankine, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Maggie Nelson, but Belcourt is no mimic; with A History of My Brief Body, Belcourt takes his place among these important thinkers."
—Danny Caine, owner of Raven Book Store, author of Continental Breakfast and El Dorado Freddy's

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