The book is a collection of essays, authored by local and outside artists, geographers, cartographers, bakers, horticulturists, and one criminal defense lawyer, that describe the city of New Orleans—not only the physical, but also the invisible and the transient.
Big-Eyed Afraid comprises five numbered sections, demarcations tracking the linear progression from youth to adulthood, and the milestones in between. Yet the poems defy this neat organization, each an intimate case study of identity; they are frank interrogations of family, race, gender, mental illness, and the forces that shape us.
Instantly, here was race, implied violence, and the abject debunking of the two, all unspooled in a startlingly familiar dialect that was somehow hardly written in dialect. How absurd that this was the first scene of the novel. It was one of the most hilariously accurate depictions of the contemporary South I’d ever encountered, and from the pages of an airport crime novel written by an old white man from Detroit.