Tuesday, October 16, 2018

I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé

Rating: ★★★ + .5 | 6 hrs and 9 min | Simon & Schuster | Memoir/Essay Collection | 07/24/2018

This memoir caught my eye because well . . . how can you bypass a book with a subtitle like that? I wasn’t familiar with Arceneaux before, but he is a prolific pop culture writer who often writes about the intersection of being Black and gay.

 I've been kind of meh on memoirs by millennials lately*, particularly the ones around identity, because they feel like they are written specifically for the gaze of White liberal progressives. But Arceneaux’s stories are messier and have a personal authenticity that I enjoyed.

My favorite essays were the ones he wrote about his relationship to Catholicism and the importance of R&B music in his life. At first, it seemed like Beyoncé's name was put in the title just to get clicks but once you get to his essay about Beyoncé it fell into place. 

Arceneaux reads the audiobook, and it didn’t 100% work for me. While it was great to hear his particular southern accent, his affect was flat and stilted at times.

I also just admire Arceneaux’s hustle to become the media personality he’s become. While he doesn’t address it directly,  there is an ongoing thread in the background of his essays about the years of hard work he put into building his career.

Arceneaux offers something new to the gay/pop culture essayist genre and I’m sure there will be many more books from him in the future.

*This review of Morgan Jenkins' This Will Be My Undoing hits on a few  the issues I have with some of these millennial memoirs about indentity

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