You Get What You Pay For: Essays (Hardcover)
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Ever love a book so much you're torn between sharing with everyone and hoarding it yourself like a dragon? Yeah. Morgan Parker brilliantly interweaves personal narrative with research, illuminating why you cannot separate the history of America's vendetta against Black people, women and femmes in particular, and personal health. As a poet and storyteller, Parker brings honesty and rigor to this book and never sacrifices a single moment of the real person behind the page. Read for illumination, information, and read it for the sheer joy of the truth.— Hannah
The award-winning author of Magical Negro traces the difficulty and beauty of existing as a Black woman through American history, from the foundational trauma of the slave trade all the way up to Serena Williams and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
“An engrossing journey through Parker’s expansive and gifted mind.”—Clint Smith, author of How the Word Is Passed
Dubbed a voice of her generation, poet and writer Morgan Parker has spent much of her adulthood in therapy, trying to square the resonance of her writing with the alienation she feels in nearly every aspect of life, from her lifelong singleness to a battle with depression. She traces this loneliness to an inability to feel truly safe with others and a historic hyperawareness stemming from the effects of slavery.
In a collection of essays as intimate as being in the room with Parker and her therapist, Parker examines America’s cultural history and relationship to Black Americans through the ages. She touches on such topics as the ubiquity of beauty standards that exclude Black women, the implications of Bill Cosby’s fall from grace in a culture predicated on acceptance through respectability, and the pitfalls of visibility as seen through the mischaracterizations of Serena Williams as alternately iconic and too ambitious.
With piercing wit and incisive observations, You Get What You Pay For is ultimately a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness and its effects on mental well-being in America today. Weaving unflinching criticism with intimate anecdotes, this devastating memoir-in-essays paints a portrait of one Black woman’s psyche—and of the writer’s search to both tell the truth and deconstruct it.
About the Author
Morgan Parker's debut book of essays, You Get What You Pay For, will be released March 12, 2024. She also is the author of young adult novel Who Put This Song On?; and the poetry collections Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, and Magical Negro, which won the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award. Parker is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Shirley.
“Morgan Parker’s You Get What You Pay For tracks a Black woman’s interiority with trenchant insight and puckish humor. Parker explores the epigenetic effects of structural anti-Blackness through her powerful meditations on loneliness and depression. She carves out her vulnerability with a poet’s scalpel.”—Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings
“In a series of moving personal vignettes, astute political observations, and piercing social commentary, Morgan Parker’s vibrant collection of essays deftly examines the shifting contours of race, romance, memory, and mental health. At once cogent and humorous, You Get What You Pay For is an engrossing journey through Parker’s expansive and gifted mind.”—Clint Smith, author of How the Word Is Passed
“In You Get What You Pay For, Morgan Parker interrogates the project of self-making while illuminating all the forces at work trying to warp reality and mangle the self. This is the kind of book that saves lives.”—Saeed Jones, author of How We Fight for Our Lives and Alive at the End of the World
“An acclaimed Black poet examines the state of her soul through the lens of race. . . . [Morgan Parker] is good at snappy titles, clever formulations, and bitter humor, all of which are on display in these provocative and personal reflections, structured as a kind of symphony of themes and metaphors. . . . As Parker writes, ‘Words are ductile, delicate, and loaded like that.’ Never more so than in her capable hands.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)