Monday, May 31, 2010

Five must-read short-story collections

Jane Ciabattari is the author of the critically acclaimed short-story collection, Stealing the Fire.

For The Daily Beast, she named five must-read short-story collections. One book on her list:
A Taste of Honey by Jabari Asim

This first collection from cultural critic Jabari Asim (Why Obama Matters and The N Word) is a clear-eyed, warm-hearted, often humorous portrait of a sometimes tough time gone by. The 16 linked stories are set in Gateway, a Midwestern city not unlike Asim’s hometown of St. Louis. Four stories are narrated by Crispus Jones, a charmer barely old enough to cross the street by himself. The youngest of three boys, Crisp is sometimes humiliated (his brother Shomberg, 12, is a particular tease), but he gets revenge in his dreams: “I undid the day’s disasters and rewrote them to suit my most fervent desires. I had control. Everyone listened to me, and there was no end to my handsomeness…”

Asim draws us close to the tightly knit Jones family, their friends, neighbors, shopkeepers, the newly radical young “Warriors of Freedom,” and the police in the months from the hot foreboding summer of 1967 to the climactic moments of “urban unrest” after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in the spring of 1968. As Asim highlights individual dreams and disappointments, near misses and triumphs, he’s always attuned to the sting of racism and the balm of tenderness and joy that comes from being with the ones we love.
Read about the other collections on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue