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Joseph Earl Thomas at Harvard Book Store
March 10 @ 7:00 pm
- March 10
- Event Categories:
- Author Events, Discussion
- Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
- Harvard Book Store
- (617) 661-1515
Harvard Book Store welcomes JOSEPH EARL THOMAS—award-winning writer and recipient of fellowships from Fulbright, VONA, Tin House, and Bread Loaf—for a discussion of his new memoir Sink.
A Return to In-Person Events
Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:
- Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.
Stranded within an ever-shifting family’s desperate but volatile attempts to love, saddled with a mercurial mother mired in crack addiction, and demeaned daily for his perceived weakness, Joseph Earl Thomas grew up feeling he was under constant threat. Roaches fell from the ceiling, colonizing bowls of noodles and cereal boxes. Fists and palms pounded down at school and at home, leaving welts that ached long after they disappeared. An inescapable hunger gnawed at his frequently empty stomach, and requests for food were often met with indifference if not open hostility. Deemed too unlike the other boys to ever gain the acceptance he so desperately desired, he began to escape into fantasy and virtual worlds, wells of happiness in a childhood assailed on all sides.
In a series of exacting and fierce vignettes, Thomas guides readers through the unceasing cruelty that defined his circumstances, laying bare the depths of his loneliness and illuminating the vital reprieve geek culture offered him. With remarkable tenderness and devastating clarity, he explores how lessons of toxic masculinity were drilled into his body and the way the cycle of violence permeated the very fabric of his environment. Even in the depths of isolation, there were unexpected moments of joy carved out, from summers where he was freed from the injurious structures of his surroundings to the first glimpses of kinship he caught on his journey to becoming a Pokémon master. SINK follows Thomas’s coming-of-age towards an understanding of what it means to lose the desire to fit in—with his immediate peers, turbulent family, or the world—and how good it feels to build community, love, and salvation on your own terms.
Praise for Sink
“Joseph Earl Thomas has created a narrative that reads like a request and loving demand. Sink is a new kind of memoir, remixing the best parts of the genre. Though cohesive, the chapters in Sink are brilliant and brilliantly different. Thomas uses the act and politics of oration to move us within the silences of desire. It’s the way Thomas narrativizes encounters that make this book different than any memoir I’ve read, but also, so more propellant than any memoir in recent years. It is criminal and absolutely delicious that Sink is a literary debut. It is stunning in its audacious goodness.” ―Kiese Laymon, award-winning author of Heavy
“Sink is a singular memoir; all blood and nerve and near-unbearable beauty. A brilliant and fucking fearless debut.”―Carmen Maria Machado, award-winning author of In the Dream House
“Joseph Earl Thomas’s Sink is a powerful, moving, and artful testament to the sustaining powers of the imagination. This compelling coming-of-age memoir is often brutal but also loving; it’s at turns critical, empathic, funny; it’s searching and revelatory the whole way through. Joey is a narrator for the ages, a boy whose unforgettable story dares expanding the possibilities of Black male identity.”―Mitchell S. Jackson, award-winning author of Survival Math
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