A Lucky Man: Stories

Graywolf. May 2018. 264p. ISBN 9781555978051. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781555979959. F
Brinkley's first collection portrays young African American men struggling with fathers, brothers, and friends, present or absent. What impresses first is the length and strength, the sheer weightiness of each detailed and meditative story. Brinkley doesn't flick off moments but shows how each contains multitudes. In "No More Than a Bubble," ostensibly about two friends picking up girls at a party, the narrator says, "Sometimes I feel all I'd have to offer, other than questions, are my memories of that time in Brooklyn." As he recalls his father's effort to teach him about happiness, he can't enjoy the sex he's having because he's trying to manage the situation; later, he recognizes the sudden rupture with his friend as something repeated throughout his life. Elsewhere, a boy who thinks of himself as a robot—the better to block his feelings—endures a troublesome trip to the suburbs, and a teenager striving for manhood is caught between his desire for a wild night out and his concern for a damaged younger brother he sometimes scorns.
VERDICT Fully developed stories that readers will savor.
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