Review of my book: Big Black Penis
By Listen & Be Heard
by kara hartz
In the book Big Black Penis: Misadventures in Race and Masculinity, Shawn Taylor manages to analyze a variety of serious social issues with due respect, yet infuses them with humor at every turn. The combination produces a hysterical and entertaining read that also leaves thought provoking ideas behind.
Primarily using examples from his own life to make his arguments, Shawn shares glimpses of his childhood through the present with blunt honesty. Very few happy moments are discussed, yet there is no room for pity in his scathing self-evaluation. Neither does he make apologies for his behavior, or opinions. He shares his past openly to explore how we all should evaluate our own behavior and motives. He is so often the butt of his own jokes that he becomes endearing, and any flaws of character he is brave enough to display become just another part of the big picture as the book flows on. With no lack of theories about his own experiences, the behavior of others, and of society, he stops short of passing judgment in most cases. All that remains is to follow the arguments, and laugh through the telling. While using such personal and specific events from his own life for the basis of his comments, there is a tendency to over generalize these hypotheses. However, pushing the borders seems to be just another way of forcing the reader to think. This book does not shy away from strong opinion, and gives the impression of welcoming disagreement. So committed to increasing thought and awareness, Taylor goes so far as to offer his e-mail address in a post-script, inviting those with questions or opposing opinions to contact him.
If the title doesn’t make it clear: this book is not for the easily offended. Full of very harsh language and raw theories, it covers subjects like fatherhood, poverty, crime, sexuality, and race. Theories are presented for how all of this, and more, contributes to self-image, the image society creates for us, and the way we see others. There is no attempt to soften either the comedic elements or the harsh tales of life growing up poor, fatherless, and confused. The well woven humor takes some of the sting away from the constant tragedy, yet it is the sort of humor that manages to strike a tender nerve from time to time. Big Black Penis reads a bit like a roller coaster ride, moving quickly from laugh-out-loud wit, to insights and sometimes uncomfortable observations.