Tell Me How It Ends is our reading group for nonfiction titles focusing on current events and social justice.
This month's book is They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib.
In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib's is a voice that matters. Whether he's attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown's grave, or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly.
In the wake of the nightclub attacks in Paris, he recalls how he sought refuge as a teenager in music, at shows, and wonders whether the next generation of young Muslims will not be afforded that opportunity now. While discussing the everyday threat to the lives of black Americans, Willis-Abdurraqib recounts the first time he was ordered to the ground by police officers: for attempting to enter his own car.
In essays that have been published by the New York Times, MTV, and Pitchfork, among others--along with original, previously unreleased essays--Willis-Abdurraqib uses music and culture as a lens through which to view our world, so that we might better understand ourselves, and in so doing proves himself a bellwether for our times.
"Hanif Abdurraqib's music writing possesses a singular, impossible magic--he cracks open the very personal nature of fandom with empathy and skepticism in equal measure. In his essays and criticism he lenses history through heartbreak and limns the vast connections between performer and audience. Through a Carly Rae Jepsen show he explores loneliness, Bruce Springsteen's The River takes us to Ferguson, Migos begets a meditation on the 'burbs. Like Greil Marcus before him, when Abdurraqib is writing about music, what he is really getting at is the true nature of life and death in America, in this moment. They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us is the book I have been waiting for; it is the book we need."
"Abdurraqib bridges the bravado and bling of praise with the blood and tears of elegy."
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, writer, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released by Button Poetry in 2016. His essays and music criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The FADER, and Pitchfork. He is currently a columnist at MTV News.
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