SHORT STORIES

Night Hawks: Stories

Scribner. May 2018. 192p. ISBN 9781501184383. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781501184406. F
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OrangeReviewStarIn "The Cynic," an early story in this arresting collection from National Book Award winner Johnson (Middle Passage), a disgruntled Plato, unable to communicate his vision of abstraction to mocking students, notices the full moon and is "ambushed by its sensuous, singular, and savage beauty." Readers encounter that beauty throughout as Johnson finds his clear way to experience, showing his characters stepping back to understand the world, then rushing to embrace it. A Japanese priest presiding over his own private sanctuary, who learns from a visiting African American scholar that he's been "locked in a cycle of emotion (his own)" and decides to reach out and create a congregation, an escaped slave returning to rescue others acknowledging that "he had known happiness and freedom" as he runs madly, leading a soulcatcher away from his quarry—these are the indelible moments that show Johnson to be a master of the short form.
VERDICT Highly recommended.

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