This week we’re taking a closer look at Powell’s Pick of the Month Stories from The Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana.
I was a theatre major, and like most theatre majors, I: 1. Insist on spelling “theatre” with an “re” and 2. Don’t actually make theatre any more (and even seeing any plays in performance during the last few years has been a challenge for well-documented, world-historical reasons). Yet still, my training has had lifelong implications, including my general aversion to film.
I don’t know if many of my fellow theatre majors share this opinion, but I’ve always felt that film is the medium that is least collaborative between creator and receiver. Film is so often an auteur medium and the movies made are mere documents that repel interpretation. (Film majors, don’t send notes, I know this is a broad generalization. I’m just trying to be provocative and I’m about to saw something nice about your precious little movies.)
Despite my general apathy to the medium, I have long been intrigued by the jump cut. The abrupt shift from one scene to another can create a wonderful uncertainty about the relationship between two moments. It is a powerful way to introduce ambiguity in a format that usually resists it.
I have long been intrigued by the jump cut. It is a powerful way to introduce ambiguity in a format that usually resists it.
In Sidik Fofana’s collection, Stories From the Tenants Downstairs
, ambiguous connections abound. Set in a high-rise in Harlem, the stories are full and well-rendered with distinct and memorable voices. In fact, the voice of the author and his characters are so impressive that you could easily fail to notice how well made the stories are.
One of the tools that Fofana uses is the jump cut. Sometimes within a story and sometimes between them, the ways in which the characters relate and interact is given space for the reader to fill in the map of the building and its tenants, and that pulls the reader in even more.
Stories From the Tenants Downstairs
is an incredible debut. I wonder if it’ll get optioned? I’d watch.