Review: Long Division, Kiese Laymon

Now this would have been a good read for A More Diverse Universe, if I had but read it in time. I’m going to cunningly add a link to this post to the More Diverse Universe links page, and by the time Aarti notices it will be too late to do anything about my illicit post-linking. Mwahahahaha, I am the most cunning blogger in all the land.

Long Division is about a boy named City (short for Citoyen) in 2013 who checks out a book called Long Division about a boy named City in 1985 who time-travels forward to 2013 to meet a girl called Baize, who in City (our City)’s present has disappeared and is presumed murdered. The City in our book is staying with his grandmother, who may or may not be hiding Baize Shepherd’s murderer in her toolshed. The City in his book has promised assistance to a girl he’s half in love with, Shalaya Crump, who has discovered a means of time traveling — forward to 2013, or backward to 1965, when City’s grandfather was murdered.

Your concern — I can detect it from here — is that Long Division might seem at first glance like the sort of book that would quickly disappear up its own bottom. But Kiese Laymon writes with such a light hand — funny in places, but mainly, sincere in the way that teenage boys like City are sincere, i.e., absolutely achingly but also afraid that they are about to be laughed at, and they are still in the process of deciding whether they care enough to change how sincere they’re going to be — that the convolutions of the plot feel strangely natural. Meanwhile, Laymon depicts so many different ways of resisting the insidious effects of centuries of racism; it’s a beautifully textured look at what racism has looked like at different points in our country’s history, and how people have dealt with it.

Also cause: Metafiction! I am all about it. What about y’all? I know that you all love Jasper Fforde, and I wish I could be there with you. Apart from that, what’s some metafiction that you adore?