Each essay in this book is a wild ride, but when woven together they make a unique memoir of one man and his relationship with his father. Through the strange tales of others—including a disconcerting, up-close-and-personal look at a gathering of Juggalos (a subculture composed of fans of the Insane Clown Posse) and a man who is attempting to make himself immune to poison by seeking out bites from increasingly deadly snakes—this book is a hilarious and vulnerable exploration of the culture of masculinity in America, and the way it creates divides between men, the people they love, and quite often, themselves.
Picked by Katie in Fort Greene
With a chirp, a smirk, and a nod, Kent Russell crisscrosses the country, seeking immersive experiences and revelations on society’s ragged edge. He pitches a tent among the Insane Clown Posse’s fans, known as Juggalos, treks to the end of the continent to find out how a legendary hockey enforcer is preparing for his own death, and explores the Amish obsession with baseball as well as his own obsession with horror, blood, and guts. Between these reports from the world at large, Russell introduces us to his raging and inimitable forebears—above all, his large-living, volatile, hard-as-nails dad.
I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son is a haunting and howling portrait of America—and American manhood—and the introduction of a ferociously brilliant new voice navigating the junctures between savagery and civilization within himself.
About the Author
KENT RUSSELL's essays have appeared in The New Republic, Harper's, GQ, n+1, The Believer, and Grantland.
“A surprising, beautiful book, at once tough and tender, hilarious and dark, and above all, deeply original.”
“Kent Russell is one of the most excitingly gifted young nonfiction writers to have appeared in recent memory.” —John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
“Lovely and bruising. . . . The essays have more than a little in common with the work of David Foster Wallace.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A ludicrously smart, tragicomic man-on-the-edge memoir in essays.” —Vanity Fair
“An exhilarating collection of essays. . . . Russell writes in an endearing voice that can be at once wryly observant and objectively fair. . . . What’s most impressive about this collection is the way the disparate essays cohere into a memoir-like whole.”
“A plunge into the most vulnerable depths of the author’s psyche, and simultaneously, complementarily, a looking outward into the world’s darkest corners and strangest characters.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books
“He throws himself at [his subjects’] mercy, he fights for them, he admires their power, he jabs at their soft spots, he flees, he circles back. Russell’s compassion for his subjects is not blind, and he doesn’t tread lightly, but he sees them as part of his crew, and he protects them with a ferocity and camaraderie that would make anyone want Russell in their corner.”
“A portrait of contemporary American masculinity that is brazen and bleak, strange and often hilarious.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The comparison will inevitably be made, so let’s go ahead and just make it: There is certainly a bit of David Foster Wallace in Kent Russell, most certainly in the feeling that you are reading a beautiful, intricate mind.”
"Kent Russell's essays are scary and sublime and the real real deal."
–Chad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding
"For those of us who’ve been missing Hunter Thompson lately, good news: I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son is as close as we’re going to get to his second coming when it comes to full-on gonzo passionate observation and self-loathing transmuted into social criticism. Its larger subject is perhaps the most toxic and entertaining of all of the can-do malevolences abroad in our land – American masculinity – but its more intimate and wrenching subject is that of one father and son, similarly self-sabotaging, masters of hurtful apathy, talkers who reject the talking cure, each shipwrecked with their shame. If you’re looking for what’s funny and smart and fierce and devoted to the shrinking hope that we can all even still perhaps cultivate virtue, stop right here."
–Jim Shepard, author of The Book of Aron
“Self-deprecating, bitterly funny . . . [and] compelling throughout. John Jeremiah Sullivan should watch his back.”
“Russell writes like a man in a fever dream. His sentences were forever jumping off the page and kissing me. . . . [A] wonderful book by one of our most excitingly gifted young nonfiction writers.”
—Bill Morris, The Millions