Heads of the Colored People

heads of the colored people

New release, coming out 4-10-2018

All right everybody, it’s time for me to face the facts. I’ve tried, I’ve read them, and I continue to put them on my TBR, but I think the simple truth is that I don’t like short story collections.

In Heads of the Colored People, you’re presented with a collection of situations that black people of all different backgrounds might find themselves in. The stories help us to realize that black Americans are multifaceted and live a myriad of lifestyles that people may never assign to them based on the established stereotypes and preconceived notions. I am 100% here for this.

These stories were weird though. Well written, but very strange. And not interesting strange, more like “how did you think of these stories other than knowing someone first hand that experienced this” kind of strange. I finished the book, but just barely. I almost gave up a couple of times, once during a story about a white woman who was a fruitarian and working with a reality show to complete her PhD research on distance parenting with her black husband(?) (boyfriend?) and their daughter. We enter the story when the dad takes the daughter to get a sleeping bag so their home can look more desperate to get a crossover episode with the home improvement special, but as they move through WalMart he realizes that something about what they are doing is wrong and after buying her the Elsa Frozen sleeping bag she wanted and lunch at McDonald’s, he returns to the home to let his wife know that he’s leaving and to deal with it. It was…it was really weird.

I think it’s really fun when these theme weeks happen to me without purposefully setting them up, but I think that this is another book that I’m not smart enough to get. This is the kind of book a seminar instructor would assign and then discuss/pick apart with a group of upperclassmen – it’s not a book you read for fun.

But I want to get back to the idea that short stories are not for me. When I say short stories I don’t mean essays that are collected into memoir/creative non-fiction. I mean fictional short stories. I think it’s because I didn’t read a lot of them growing up, and so when I sit down to read a book I expect a connected journey from beginning to end. Short stories make me feel like I’m on a hike, and I know I’m about one chapter into my journey, but when I start chapter 2 I find myself back at the beginning of my hike again. It’s a lot of starting over, and for some reason my mind does NOT like that very much.

This is one of those reviews where I hope that by describing what I didn’t like, you might hear something you do. This was not a bad book, it just wasn’t to my taste – both in structure and content. If you enjoy short stories that challenge how you think about relationships, you might really like this book. I just didn’t.

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