A review of
Negro League Baseball
by Harmony Holiday
Harmony Holiday’s father was the successful soul singer Jimmy Holiday, who died in 1987, when she was five. Her shortest poem, “The Soonest People,” becomes his almost-straightforward memorial: “My father was Jimmy, dad / was weeping so frankly it came like gazing had.” Other poems bear musical titles: “Duets,” “Certain Ballads,” “Nine Key Chord,” “Errand boy for rhythm,” “Dixie is a two beat thing / 11:11.” You could try to read this first book as a long, weird elegy to the father she never much knew—in fact, its musical elements almost tempt us to read it that way—but then it speeds away, into other subjects, other riffs, other lines. Its fast, trippy poems, most of them in prose, are sometimes kinds of elegies, but always kinds of escapes; kinds of homages, but also ways to leave home.
We hope you enjoy this excerpt.To read the full piece, please purchase a copy of the magazine from The McSweeney’s Store.