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Island in the City

A Memoir

Micah McCrary

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 09/2018
Pages: 168
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9781496210661


What forges the unique human personality? In Island in the City Micah McCrary, taking his genetic inheritance as immutable, considers the role geography has played in shaping who he is. Place often leaves indelible marks: the badges of self-discovery; the scars from adversity and hardship; the gilded stamps from personal triumphs; the tattoos of memory; and the new appendages—friendships, experiences, and baggage—we carry with us. Each place, with its own personality, has the power to form or revise our personhood in surprising and fascinating ways. McCrary considers three places he has called home (Normal, Illinois; Chicago; and Prague) and reflects on how these surroundings have shaped him. His sharp-eyed, charming memoir-in-essays contemplates how aspects of his identity, such as being black, male, middle-class, queer, and American, have developed and been influenced by where he hangs his hat.


Micah McCrary's work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Rumpus, Midwestern Gothic, Identity Theory, and Third Coast. He is an assistant editor at Hotel Amerika, a contributing editor at Assay, and a founding coeditor of con•text. A teaching associate and PhD candidate in English at Ohio University, he holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.    


"In the latest entry in the publisher's American Lives series, McCrary writes of becoming aware of his black heritage early in life but also about the impression his skin color had on others in small-town Normal, Illinois, in the 1980s and '90s. . . . A slim yet potent and intimately ruminative debut memoir on travel, maturity, and culture."—Kirkus

"In Island in the City Micah McCrary dares over and over again to articulate the consequences of race, place, and the perils of having a sensitive and very particular sentience. Daring nonfiction is never quite normal; it is always an island in a city of conventional thought. McCrary's work gives the reader this refuge and this challenge."—David Lazar, author of I'll Be Your Mirror: Essays and Aphorisms

"In these searching essays Micah McCrary takes us from Normal—both the place and the idea—to Chicago and Prague as he reckons with race, sex, money, and what it means to be at home."—Eula Biss, author of On Immunity: An Inoculation