I’ve had really good luck with Reece Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club picks, so I thought maybe I can like short stories she picks? Well, Shut the Front Door! I finally read a collection of short stories that I loved! Ok, I loved MOST of them, I liked the rest. This does not happen in my life!
The eight stories in this collection are unrelated, but all have something to do with Haitians–either in Haiti or in the diaspora. They are easy to read, not dripping in ridiculous symbolism, and, best of all, are informative as well as enjoyable. That is not to say they are Pollyannish. This may be Reece’s bookclub, not Oprah’s, but they are not all sunshine and unicorns. The bad stuff though is at levels normal people can take in without needing therapy.
“Sometimes you take detours to get where you need to go.”
(Dosas, p. 32)
In Sunrise, Sunset, we meet life at both ends of the spectrum. Jude, a baby, and his grandmother Carol, who is descending into Alzheimer’s apparently. His mother, Jeanne, has postpartum depression and can’t lose her baby weight. But Carol’s life is spinning sadly out-of-control just as Jude’s life is starting. This story moved me the most. It was the longest–I wondered if it had started out as a novel or novella-to-be.
Hot Air Balloons showed us the passion and righteousness of the college years. Neah and Lucy, from different parts of the same world, both come to grips with their culture–what it is to some and what it is to themselves. Very moving.
The Gift shows us regrets, tragedies, changes in perception. Thomas, whose “voice was radio deep,” endures the unendurable. Anika, who was in love with him, now paints birds–even the Antillean mango birds who fly backward, to try to move on.
“These half-assed outsiders, these no-longer-fully-Haitian-almost-blan, foreigner-type people, these dyaspora with their mushy thinking, why does it all come back to one kind of love to them, the kind of love you keep talking about rather than the kind of love that shatters you to pieces? Don’t these die-ass-poor-aahhs, these dyaspowa and dyesporen, these outside minded kings and queens, know that there are many other ways to show love than to be constantly talking about it? ‘Of course I love her,’ she said…’That’s why I am so rough on her'” (The Port-au-Prince Marriage Special, p, 58-59.)
I could write pages on each of these stories. Just read them. They are a fast read, but a fulfilling read.
Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat
My Reviews of Other Reece Witherspoon/Hello Sunshine Book Club Picks:
The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
Next Year in Havana: A Novel by Chancel Cleeton
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman