Booksmith is thrilled to host the award-winning author of Magical Negro, Morgan Parker, for her new book of essays You Get What You Pay For, which traces the difficulties 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. Morgan will be in conversation with local superhero and author of the delicacy of embracing spirals, Mimi Tempestt. Join us!
About the book
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.
Advance priase for You Get What You Pay For
“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
About the authors
Morgan Parker is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She is the author of the 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 National Book Critics Circle Award. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and winner of a Pushcart Prize, Parker has been hailed by The New York Times as “a dynamic craftsperson” of “considerable consequence to American poetry.” She received her bachelor’s in anthropology and creative writing from Columbia University and an MFA in poetry from New York University. Parker is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and creator/co-curator of the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series with Tommy Pico. With Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. Morgan Parker lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Shirley. Photo by Renell Medrano.
Mimi Tempestt (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and daughter of California. She has a MA in Literature from Mills College, and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Creative/Critical PhD in Literature at UC Santa Cruz. Her first book, the monumental misrememberings, is published with Co-Conspirator Press//The Feminist Center for Creative Work (2020). She was selected for participation in the Lambda Literary Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices & writers in 2021. Her second book, The Delicacy of Embracing Spirals, is published with City Lights (2023). Her works can be found in Foglifter, Interim Poetics, The Brooklyn Rail, and The Studio Museum in Harlem. Photo courtesy the artist.
In the event of cancellation, you will be refunded the price of your ticket within 4 business days.