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Other titles in the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction series:
At-Risk (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction)
Synopses & Reviews
In Amina Gautier’s Brooklyn, some kids make it and some kids don’t, but not in simple ways or for stereotypical reasons. Gautier’s stories explore the lives of young African Americans who might all be classified as “at-risk,” yet who encounter different opportunities and dangers in their particular neighborhoods and schools and who see life through the lens of different family experiences.
Gautier’s focus is on quiet daily moments, even in extraordinary lives; her characters do not stand as emblems of a subculture but live and breathe as people. In “The Ease of Living,” the young teen Jason is sent down south to spend the summer with his grandfather after witnessing the double murder of his two best friends, and he is not happy about it. A season of sneaking into as many movies as possible on one ticket or dunking girls at the pool promises to turn into a summer of shower chairs and the smell of Ben-Gay in the unimaginably backwoods town of Tallahassee. In “Pan Is Dead,” two half-siblings watch as the heroin-addicted father of the older one works his way back into their mother’s life; in “Dance for Me,” a girl on scholarship at a posh Manhattan school teaches white girls to dance in the bathroom in order to be invited to a party.
As teenagers in complicated circumstances, each of Gautier’s characters is pushed in many directions. To succeed may entail unforgiveable compromises, and to follow their desires may lead to catastrophe. Yet within these stories they exist and can be seen as they are, in the moment of choosing.
"This year's winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction is an earnest, straightforward collection of 10 tales set mostly in a poor black neighborhood in Brooklyn that carry a stiff social message. Single and teenage mothers, absent or drug-addicted dads, the token black girl on a scholarship at a fancy private school who gets invited to her classmates' party because she teaches them a dance in the bathroom: Gautier manages to give cookie-cutter characters some dimension. In 'The Ease of Living,' Jason, 16, is sent to his grandpa's in Tallahassee, Fla., for the summer after two of his Brooklyn pals are shot dead. But it's more punishment than vacation, as Jason and his grandfather must both overcome the preconceptions they hold about each other. Another 16-year-old, a single mom of an infant who won't stop crying, gets almost no help from the father, and never learned from her own mother what intimacy or bonding with a child really means. Gautier's aim is obvious and ultimately forced, and the bland prose can't elevate the book above a series of didactic moral lessons. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Amina Gautier is an assistant professor of English at DePaul University. Her work has appeared in the anthologies Best African American Fiction and New Stories from the South and in numerous literary journals including Antioch Review, North American Review, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, and Southern Review.
Table of Contents
The Ease of Living 1
Afternoon Tea 27
Pan Is Dead 48
Dance for Me 91
Girl of Wisdom 105
Some Other Kind of Happiness 113
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