“Boolean Logic” by Morgan Christie

Elegant and poignant, Boolean Logic, (Howling Bird Press 2023) Morgan Christie’s collection of twelve autobiographical essays, shines light on what life is like as a Black woman.  What it is like to be overlooked or dismissed as insignificant, despite talent and skill. These essays are crafted using the best creative nonfiction literary techniques, often employing analogies or extended metaphors to illustrate their premises in fresh and original ways. This fine collection deservedly won the Howling Bird 2023 Nonfiction Prize.

The first essay, “Sewing Dresses,” explores growing up in a basketball-oriented family, the author’s father having been a pro-ball player and her mother a high school starter. Basketball is a religion in this family. The piece compares the way the author’s grandmother’s hands guide seams of cloth to the author’s own basketball skills, the way she used her hands to guide bounce passes. The unique and fresh analogy typifies this collection. Even though the author had played basketball since she was six, she sometimes encountered gender bias, assumptions that as a girl she couldn’t know much about the sport, and it is suggested she should go sew dresses instead of get involved in sports.

“Paper Guns” examines the effect of guns on the Black community. Guns and toy guns were banned in the author’s family. Her mother even tears up a paper gun given to her by a classmate. Yet one time a swat team shows up in her yard to confront her father over a lie told by a White driver. The liar says her father waved a gun at him. Fortunately, a family friend on the police force hears about “the debacle” and comes to the rescue. This is not the only essay that takes on policing issues in the Black community, the fear that police engender in the community. “That Bridgerton Line” expresses the hope that the positive  initiatives following publicized incidents of racially unjust policing will last when the incidents are no longer trending.

“Be Like Mike” considers whether a sports hero like Michael Jordan with a platform has an obligation to stand up politically for justice in his community—and whether we place too much emphasis on those heroes as opposed to those closer to home. It ends up with a loving tribute to her father.

“ISO” is another essay drawing on the author’s sports-oriented family experiences:

Twisted or swollen knees weren’t obstacles in my house, a basketball house, they were rites of passage. My parents didn’t present this sort of injury as a challenge to overcome, but proof of the grit and sacrifice that we welcomed. We were athletes, every single one of us. I held the moniker like a battle ax, swinging it around on the court and off. To be an athlete was to be strong and tough, to be kick ass. I didn’t just want to be those things, I was them.

Another example is an essay centered on the author’s sister when she first realizes “we would always be women and girls first” to some people, and that for those people, your gender superseded your ability as an athlete: “it was the realization that in sports, as in all things, people would perceive you differently than you perceived yourself. In a sinking and notched way, you feel more than helpless, you are made to feel inferior, when you are not.”

The quality of writing truly sparkles in Christie’s collection. We look forward to reading more of this talented author’s work.

Morgan Christie

Morgan Christie’s work has appeared in Callaloo, Room, Hawai’i Review, Sport Literate, and elsewhere. She is the author of four poetry chapbooks and her full-length short story collection These Bodies (Tolsun Books 2020) was nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in fiction. She has been featured in Buzzfeed, Yahoo News, Poets&Writers, LA Weekly, London Post, and Broadway World. Christie is the recipient of the 2022 Arc Poetry Poem of the Year Prize, 2022 Digging Chapbook Series Prize, and the 2023 silver National Magazine Award for Poetry. Christie is also the author of the novella Liddle Deaths (Stillhouse Press 2024).


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