A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt


For readers of Ocean Vuong and Maggie Nelson and fans of Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, A History of My Brief Body is a brave, raw, and fiercely intelligent collection of essays and vignettes on grief, colonial violence, joy, love, and queerness.

Out of stock


What Our Bookseller Says:

These essays are anything but reducible. I’m not sure any one word works to describe Belcourt’s writing, so take all of these: utopic, messy, abstract, and beautifully impossible. They’re memoir, lyric essays, theory, literary criticism, book reviews, manifesto, iphone notes, and excerpts from a hypothetical novel (my fave essay being: “Fragments from a Half-Existence”). They’re elevated not out of some highbrow aspiration, but an urgency for a better world, one free of racism, colonialism, and homophobia. After all, Belcourt argues, laws are just fences, while art asks us to extend ourselves when our bodies cannot. Any time there’s a binary, there’s white supremacy. Any time there’s efficiency and structure, someone must get cut out. We, white readers, even if queer—our governments and ideas are making NDN life unlivable in all countries, and Belcourt delivers a kind of infinite hope we don’t deserve.


What the Publisher Says:

“An urgently needed, unyielding book of theoretical and intimate strength.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred

The youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize mines his personal history in a brilliant new essay collection seeking to reconcile the world he was born into with the world that could be.

Billy-Ray Belcourt’s debut memoir opens with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile First Nation. Piece by piece, Billy-Ray’s writings invite us to unpack and explore the big and broken world he inhabits every day, in all its complexity and contradiction: a legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it; first loves and first loves lost; sexual exploration and intimacy; the act of writing as a survival instinct and a way to grieve. What emerges is not only a profound meditation on memory, gender, anger, shame, and ecstasy, but also the outline of a way forward. With startling honesty, and in a voice distinctly and assuredly his own, Belcourt situates his life experiences within a constellation of seminal queer texts, among which this book is sure to earn its place. Eye-opening, intensely emotional, and excessively quotable, A History of My Brief Body demonstrates over and over again the power of words to both devastate and console us.

A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Epilogue BCB