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Author/Book Review: Tyrese Coleman

I am currently taking the class Writers in Print/Person (Lit 215) with Professor Young. If you love literature, I highly recommend taking this class. We study poetry, fiction, memoirs, short stories, and more. The best part of it all is that we get to meet the authors of these works after we’ve read them! It is honestly one of the best classes I have ever taken, and we’re only halfway through the semester.

The author I am reviewing today is Tyrese Coleman. We read her short story compilation titled, How To Sit, for the class a couple of weeks ago. The book includes a mixture of nonfiction short stories from her own life and a few fictional ones that mimic her life. When she came to class she spoke about how she decided to mix fiction and nonfiction in her book because she prefers not to draw lines between genres.

How To Sit encapsulates what it is like to grow up as a young black woman in poverty living in rural Virginia. The stories are graphic and include a variety of difficult topics. I highly recommend that you read the book for yourself because a brief summary like this just doesn’t do it justice. It was truly an inspiring read and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The most exciting part of this process was meeting Tyrese Coleman and hearing her talk about her book. Some of her advice to readers enjoying How To Sit is to understand that although not all of the stories are true, some of them do contain very specific moments from her life. Even the fiction pieces are still based on her life, they are just altered. For example, Tyrese explained that one of the stories titled “V-Day” in her book is entirely nonfiction and all of the hardship and guilt that comes with that story is real and should be regarded as such. That being said, another story called “Sacrifice” is almost entirely fiction.

Another thing Tyrese brought up in her talk that I thought was interesting was her view on audience. One of the points she stressed the most was that she does not write to please or appeal to any specific audience. She is simply writing her story.

After reading How To Sit and listening to Tyrese talk about her book and her life, I can safely recommend that you invest in reading the book and any other works Tyrese has written so far (she has written many short stories that have been published in literary journals such as The Offing, Catapult, Lit Hub, and more). While you read, think about the things I mentioned she talked about for a greater understanding of her work. I can guarantee that, even if you don’t like the work itself, you will gain a greater appreciation for Tyrese and anyone who has faced similar struggles in their lives.

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