J. M. Holmes’s “What’s Wrong with You? What’s Wrong with Me?” appears in our Summer issue (no. 221); it’s Holmes’s first published story. Next year, it will be included in the collection How Are You Going to Save Yourself. Like the other stories in the collection, “What’s Wrong with You? What’s Wrong with Me?” follows a group of friends, four young black men—Dub, Rolls, G., and Rye—as they navigate the tangle of sex, race, and class. The story opens with Dub pressing Rye with the question “How many white women you been with?” Rye shies away from answering amid the group but later tells G., in confidence, about a sexual encounter with a white woman that left him at once ashamed and exhilarated.
I spoke with Holmes over the phone recently, just after he’d returned to Milwaukee from a trip through Portugal, Italy, and Croatia with his mother and sister. He was laid back and cool, despite admitting that he was nervous. (“That was my first interview,” he told me afterward. “I feel like I just asked my girl to prom.”) We talked openly about intimacy in interracial relationships, the black body as sexual fetish, and shadeism.
(NB: Some of the story’s details are purposefully left out, so as not to spoil the experience for our readers. But you can read “What’s Wrong with You? What’s Wrong with Me?” here.) Read More