I hate to get all sentimental and shit about an NYT Best Seller, but this collection is pretty great. It’s a bummer that Keegan died young and unexpectedly because it would have been awesome to read more of her stuff. And to see how much more awesome her writing would get with age.
These essays and short stories are full of optimism, self-awareness, some darkness, idealism, and realness.There’s simultaneously universality and incredible specificity. Some are clearly fulfilling a school assignment– others not so much.
One of my favorite elements is that the introductions to her essays are brilliantly structured. It’s like there’s an explosion and its trails lead you into the topic and suddenly you’re just there.
Looking for short stories that read easy but actually make you think? Dana Johnson’s collection, Break Any Woman Down will do the job. I read this a couple weeks ago and a lot of stuff happened since then, so I don’t remember the details perfectly. BUT the stories in the collection are super diverse, with lots of different types of characters, and take place in multiple eras. They all showcase the Black female experience in the US, and touch on stuff like family, relationships, racism, school, work, abuse, AIDS, dating, love, etc. It won a Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and according to the internet, seems to have been pretty popular when it was published a bit over a decade ago. Check it out!
This is a series of short graphic vignettes about Cunningham’s time working in a Psychiatric hospital. They were written both to explain the work that Cunningham did there– and to destigmatize various kinds of mental illness. A variety of people’s mental situations are described, including Cunningham’s own at the end. Most of them are pretty damn stark. It’s an important collection, gripping at times, and I read through it in about half an hour.
The book was made to destigmatize mental illness, but I still felt like there was some objectification going on. Like maybe the most “extreme” cases were focused on? I am wondering if my “objectification alarm” was simply going off because any discussion of mental illness whatsoever in our culture is so rare? I’m note sure yet.
But I like Cunningham’s drawing style and this graphic novel is unique in subject matter so maybe you should check it out.
Here’s where you can find a copy at your nearest library