Key is excellent at producing a smile or one of those laughs that slip out unexpectedly. His work has that quality to it that grandparents, or an older relative contains in which you want to know everything about their words and their stories, and that essence is especially strong in his memoir: The World’s Largest Man.
Within his memoir, Key recalls growing up with family from the Mississippi and breathing in Memphis—and all the unusual characters that make up his life. He shows us his “questionable” family make-up and his ponderings regarding if the universe had gotten everything wrong and he actually belonged to a different family. It’s relatable, yet the fictional progression of the story leaves you yearning to know about Key’s particular set of circumstances. Creative nonfiction is an overlooked medium of writing, though Key has made me appreciate the form again. I’ve recently gone back to my fiction roots, and I’m learning new elements to the craft and I adore how much of it is intertwined in Key’s work.
I knew that creative non-fiction and memoirs could be compelling when done right, and Key has me itching to write some of my own childhood memories and left me wondering what’s going to happen in my future that I can painfully and comically write down. I only was able to read excerpts of The World’s Greatest Man and I’m completely surprised at how it has changed my perspective and sparked an interest in type of writing I thought I didn’t need.
That’s what writing is supposed to do though. I constantly forget that the written word can change your perspective which is something funny and “shocking” to say, considering I am a well, writer. But I think that when I do have these realizations I’m once again amazed and I fall in love with writing and I can be in awe of its magnitude.
I am so happy I got to experience, even if just a taste, of Key’s work. The diction itself is enough to keep one compelled. There’s a bluntness in the words, as well as a child like wish to know more tangled in with that slight dissatisfaction and fondness of life. It’s complex, even within the first few pages. The specificity of the details drive the memoir forward, as if Key was trying to grasp every piece of his memories to make them as cohesive and beautiful as possible. I think that I also try to achieve a similar voice within my own work as Key and that’s what drew me in deeper to his own story.
Even into the acknowledgments page, the voice there is in ways who I saw before and very, truthful, and it’s poetic too. I think in our heads, there are specific genres and it’s hard to see the elements of others mixed up in it but it makes me so happy I perused writing because it’s a constantly discovery playground.
Key has the wit and cleverness to make anyone turn up the corners of their mouth, it’s bound to happen and it cannot be denied and it’s so perfect to know that in every way that someone can still do that to you when you’re wrapped up in the mundane aspects of life.
-Kiara Ivey, Junior Layout Editor