How to Sit
Tyrese L. Coleman’s debut collection of stories and essays, How to Sit, was published by Mason Jar Press in 2018 and nominated for a 2019 PEN Open Book Award.
“How do you pick your mom up from jail? How do you mourn the death of your grandmother, who was both a powerfully seductive and vital force in your life, but at the same time, awful and tragic? How do you wait three months for your premature twin babies to get out of the NICU without going mad from fear and guilt? With a strong voice that is at times sparse and direct, at other times poetic and knowing, Tyrese Coleman confronts these and other questions in this beautiful debut collection, How to Sit. In these stories and essays, she uncovers a paradoxical truth: that sometimes it’s the more difficult things that you can face with surprising bravery and it’s the things that are supposed to come “easy” that are the hardest to learn. How to Sit is, at root, a reflection on how to live. How to both accept and transcend your past. Coleman excavates her personal history, sometimes in stories handed down from past generations, sometimes in DNA results, and she discovers that it’s the act of writing itself that can free her from her family, her guilt, maybe even herself. For Coleman, there is ‘no way to escape except to live her own fiction.’”
—David Olimpio, Author of This Is Not a Confession
“In How to Sit–a short set of essays and “not quite non-fiction,”—Tyrese Coleman investigates the border between fiction and non-fiction in a way that calls to mind Tim O’Brien’s powerhouse The Things They Carried, but here the subject is the trials of black girlhood and womanhood, the dislocation of class mobility, and the impossibility of making sense of it all. Coleman has written a short work with more insight, heart and truth than the entire catalogues of even some of our best writers.”
—Rion Amilcar Scott, author of The World Doesn’t Require You and Insurrections
“In How to Sit, Tyrese Coleman offers stories and essays that are brilliant, vulnerable, hard at times, and unfailingly generous in their scope and honesty. Every piece has its own strength, its own life, its own importance—but what unites the work as a whole is Coleman’s incredible gift for narrative and the faith her voice inspires, even when you aren’t entirely certain where fact ends and fiction begins. I only wish this book were longer.”
—Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know