Heads of the Colored People

5 CDs. HighBridge Audio. Jul. 2018. 6 hrs. ISBN 9781684413706. $29.99. digital download. SHORT STORIES
OrangeReviewStarPain leavened by dark humor characterizes this debut collection by an exciting new voice. Thompson-Spires focuses on the quirky, the obnoxious, and the tragic as her characters navigate the tricky terrain of race and class in modern America. She explores ideas ranging from police brutality and suicide attempts to fetishizing the disabled; her protagonists are black, inhabiting mostly white spaces. "Belles Lettres," a deliciously funny story with a sad subtext, tells of two highly educated mothers exchanging caustic notes about each other's daughters, the only African American students in their private school. "The Subject of Consumption," humorous in its exaggeration, features a father rebelling against his extremist fruitarian wife by planning to run away with their seven-year-old daughter after a clandestine trip to McDonald's. Another story features a disturbed young woman wanting to film her suicide for her Facebook friends. Adenrele Ojo's narration captures the emotional intensity but does not overdo it.
VERDICT Thompson-Spires succeeds in striking just the right balance between acidity and pathos. This book will appeal to listeners who appreciate clever, innovative writing about painful subjects. ["Presenting unique characters, gifted storyteller Thompson-Spires navigates the black experience with humor and poignancy while also acknowledging the inherent tensions and exposure to violence black citizens encounter": LJ 3/15/18 starred review of the Atria hc.]
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