Witness: Stories

Farrar. Aug. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9780374607036. $27. F
After bursting on the scene with the debut collection A Lucky Man, an Ernest J. Gaines Award winner and National Book Award finalist, Brinkley takes risks in a looser-limbed new work with stories set in New York City. His characters range widely, from grandparents to children to ghosts, with some of them helpful to others, some resistant to receiving help for themselves, and with solace found in unexpected places. Whatever their situations, they must ultimately decide whether to take action, and the narratives wind up in surprising places. In “Blessed Deliverance,” for instance, a group of rowdy teenagers wending their way somewhat aimlessly through life end up gently feeding rabbits, while “Comfort” begins with a woman hot and bothered by summer and insomnia but opens into a memory of a young man’s wrongful arrest.
VERDICT A refreshing second book from a talented new writer.
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