Coexistence: Stories

Norton. May 2024. 176p. ISBN 9781324075943. pap. $15.99. F
Those familiar with Belcourt (A Minor Chorus) know him to be an expert of his craft, puckish with form, switchblade-sharp with turns of phrase, and deft at blurring binaries into hazy liminal spaces of joy and pain. But the true magic of his writing comes in the singular way he sees the world in poetic—and aesthetic—terms and puts language to it. After two poetry collections, a work of autobiographical essays, and a novel, Belcourt tries his hand at short stories here, and like those previous efforts, his latest likewise sees the author proving to be without peer when it comes to empathetically translating the quotidian of daily existence into spiritual portraiture. The stories range from young, aimless lives on the edge of rupture to the alternating current of relationships between parents and adult children. The collection is lush and richly observed and made all the more moving thanks to Belcourt’s tendency toward first-person narration, which pairs perfectly with his talent for concisely expressing characters’ interiority and his ability to locate beauty in bruising.
VERDICT Belcourt demonstrates the true strength of the story collection format, leveraging his remarkable skill with character and language to deliver a potpourri of memorable and moving short-form works.
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