Synopses & Reviews
A raw, poetic, coming-of-age "masterwork" (The New York Times) about Blackness, masculinity and addiction
Punch Me Up to the Gods introduces a powerful new talent in Brian Broome, whose early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys propel forward this gorgeous, aching, and unforgettable debut. Brian's recounting of his experiences — in all their cringeworthy, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory — reveal a perpetual outsider awkwardly squirming to find his way in. Indiscriminate sex and escalating drug use help to soothe his hurt, young psyche, usually to uproarious and devastating effect. A no-nonsense mother and broken father play crucial roles in our misfit's origin story. But it is Brian's voice in the retelling that shows the true depth of vulnerability for young Black boys that is often quietly near-to-bursting at the seams.
Cleverly framed around Gwendolyn Brooks's poem "We Real Cool," the iconic and loving ode to Black boyhood, Punch Me Up to the Gods is at once playful, poignant, and wholly original. Broome's writing brims with swagger and sensitivity, bringing an exquisite and fresh voice to ongoing cultural conversations about Blackness in America.
"Punch Me Up to the Gods obliterates what we thought were the limitations of not just the American memoir, but the possibilities of the American paragraph. I'm not sure a book has ever had me sobbing, punching the air, dying of laughter, and needing to write as much as Brian Broome's staggering debut. This sh*t is special." Kiese Laymon, New York Times best-selling author of Heavy
"Punch Me Up to the Gods is some of the finest writing I have ever encountered and one of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I — or you — have ever read. And you will read it; you must read it. It contains everything we all crave so deeply: truth, soul, brilliance, grace. It is a masterpiece of a memoir and Brian Broome should win the Pulitzer Prize for writing it. I am in absolute awe and you will be, too." Augusten Burroughs, New York Times best-selling author of Running with Scissors
"An engrossing memoir about growing up Black and gay and finding a place in the world....Beautifully written, this examination of what it means to be Black and gay in America is a must-read." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Broome debuts with a magnificent and harrowing memoir that digs into the traumas of growing up Black and gay in Ohio in the late 1970s and early '80s." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Broome's powerful, sharp-edged memoir, often equal parts horrifying and bleakly funny, is made up of essays focusing on key moments in his life." Columbus Dispatch
"An electrifying read. Vulnerable and poetic but filled with a ferocious fire, it grabs you from the first page to the last. Perfect for fans of Sarah Broom, Kiese Laymon, and Barry Jenkins's Moonlight." Chicago Review of Books
About the Author
BRIAN BROOME is an award-winning writer, poet, and screenwriter, and K. Leroy Irvis Fellow and instructor in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is pursuing an MFA. He has been a finalist in The Moth storytelling competition and won the grand prize in Carnegie Mellon University's Martin Luther King Jr. Writing Awards. He lives in Pittsburgh.