The Short Review: Every single story in this collection is great. A Five star read, and I would read several of these again. Great writing, characters as fleshed out as those in Alice Munro’s stories, but with an energy new to the form. Exciting and brilliant.
The Long Review: Y’all know that album, Crazy Sexy Cool by TLC? It’s one of my favorite albums, and every single song is perfect. Like, you can literally just press play and it’s one bop after another. The songs are great alone, but when you hear them together, you can really see how cohesive the album is. Well, that’s basically how I felt about Heads Of The Colored People. Every single story is great and can be read without the others. It’s just that reading them all together makes it an even better experience.
The writing is fantastic. Thompson-Spires has a unique voice, but it doesn’t take you any time to get acclimated the way some other new voices do. It’s like she’s arrived fully formed as a writer and is in total control. There were moments when I thought, “How has no one said it like this yet?” I don’t always feel that way.
The characters in each of these stories, some recurring, are so well developed in such a short span of time, I can only compare her to Alice Munro. If you guys haven’t read Alice Munro, she basically has a novel’s worth of character development in less than 20 pages. Somehow, Thompson-Spires was able to develop these characters in such quick, perfect strokes, that within the first page, you feel you’ve known them for a while. It’s breathtaking and a wonderful pleasure to experience.
I loved each of the stories, but of course I had favorites. I thought the opening story, Heads Of The Colored People was great and grabbed my attention. (it’s actually why I grabbed this collections a few months back). My favorite stories were the connected ones. There’s three stories back to back that feature the same characters in some capacity but they still function on their own. I always like that. One of them even featured a character doing Hot Yoga, and for any of you that follow me on instagram, you’ll know I’m currently obsessed with Hot Yoga. She describes the setting perfectly. There’s also one story that so casually references Grey Gardens, the average reader wouldn’t pick up on it. I love little gems like that.
I could rave about this collection forever, but just know that I loved it and I think it’s totally deserving of it’s spot on the National Book Award Longlist! If you’ve read it, let’s please discuss! I hope you guys liked this review. I’ll be back later this week to talk about Gun Love by Jennifer Clement! (Oh, and for the few of you who wanted my stray thoughts on the stories, you can read them below haha)
1.) The first story was heartbreaking and I loved that the action took place off the page.
2.)The second story…My first reaction while reading this was laughing at how passive aggressive this character was (getting older, I’ve caught myself being very passive aggressive in certain situations and it felt very honest.) But then, as I had some distance from the story, I realized it was kind of heartbreaking why he felt the need to be passive aggressive.
3.)Y’all, I laughed so hard over this dang story. It was just too funny. I love passive aggressive moms.
4.) The Hot Yoga…if you don’t get why I loved it, go to my Instagram and watch my Yoga Drama highlights.
5.) I think the 6th story was the one with the Little Edie Grey Gardens reference. LOVED!!
6.) Y’all…Suicide Watch…I can’t even. That last paragraph had me gasping and hollering.
7.) ASMR. You guys. What even.
8.) I had lots of thoughts on some of these other stories but even after giving myself time, I’m still trying to unpack them. The DMV thing, ugh I actually teared up at the end. Just such a good collection. I literally cannot even articulate what it’s got me feeling. But anyway. Y’all tell me your thoughts. I need to discuss.