Nicole Lyons’ Review of Kindra M. Austin’s Heavy Mental

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Within the pages of Heavy Mental, Kindra Austin lies, and she lays her heart out for all of the world to feast. And feast, we do, on this, the pinnacle of her soul’s work.

To say that Heavy Mental has catapulted Austin and her work into the same literary sphere as Plath or Cohen or Atwood is as true as the sky above and our souls below. And I, a ride or die fan from the get-go, am both excited and afraid to see what she will publish next. Because in all reality, if I were to take my last breath in the morning, Heavy Mental is the perfect literary swan song for me to go out on, with my only wish being that I had written something as brave, as ugly, and as beautifully honest myself. I don’t know how she’ll ever top this one.

Heavy Mental is a lifetime of hurt and hope. It is unconditional love given wholeheartedly under the strictest conditions. It’s a child grieving and a mother coping when death and drink and every ugly aspect of our lives pull up a chair to join us at dinner. Heavy Mental is depression and addiction, the unending cycle of it, the tide of it, the winds of it, the elements of all of it that erode the foundation of families and filter inside the smallest souls. Heavy Mental is grief and acceptance, love and devotion, anger and fear, and Kindra Austin writes all of it absolutely fucking spectacularly.

In Heavy Mental we take Austin’s hand and wade into her world of unconditional love and soul crushing sorrow, and just when we think we can’t take anymore, Austin tightens her grip and pulls us in to the deep end.

With surgical precision, Austin carves her truth into our hearts. Her wordplay is steeping in irony and glorious in wit, even when it’s quiet and contemplative in nature. And I think that’s part of her gift – the silent punch of it all. Heavy Mental is a memoir birthed in love and delivered in honesty, and everything about the book is perfection.

Austin does not mince words. She doesn’t write to stun, or to shock, or to please anyone. She writes only to tell her story, and shed the weight of it all, and in doing so, in shrugging off any attempt to pander to readers, she has written something so extraordinarily beautiful and breathtakingly honest that I’m not even sure she knows what she has done.

Heavy Mental is not only one of the best collections I have read this season, I’d wager it’s probably one of the best collections I’ve read, ever. Kindra M. Austin is most definitely a writer to watch out for, and Heavy Mental is by far the book to grab this year.

—Nicole Lyons, The Lithium Chronicles I & II


Heavy Mental releases in March 2020. Stay tuned…

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