Book Review | Rating – 4/5 stars | Genre – LGBT+ Short Stories
“Lot” by Bryan Washington makes up the final book in my most recent pile of new books that I bought at the beginning of the year. I was intrigued by this book through my love of short stories, as well as the promise of a whole diverse story that explored LGBTQ+ themes in a way that I hadn’t seen in a book before (not saying these books don’t exist, I just hadn’t read them yet). So, now that I’ve finished reading this book, here is it’s review…
In an apartment block, the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, trying to dodge his brother’s fists and resenting his older sister’s absence. He’s also discovering he likes boys…
All around him his friends and neighbours experience the tumult of living in the margins. Their stories – of living, thriving and dying across the city’s myriad neighbourhoods – are stitched throughout the boy’s life to reveal a young woman caught out in an affair, the fortunes of a rag-tag baseball team and a group of young hustlers, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and the fate of a camera-shy mythical beast. With brilliant and soulful insight into what makes a community, a family and a life, Lot is about love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms. (check it out here)
What did I think?
I very much enjoyed reading this brilliant collection of short stories. From the very beginning I was invested in the main story that (as the blurb says) follows the son of a black mother and a Latino father. Each short story is seperated by a continuation of the main story – which I eagerly looked forward to with each additional chapter. It was great watching this main character growing up, struggling with a disfunctional family and his own discovery of his sexuality.
This interest continued into the seperate short stories that built up the world around the protagonist. It was great to see how this area of Houston flurishes with diverse and interesting characters that helped me to understand how people from somewhere I’ve never met, would’ve grown up.
It is through these stories though that I wasn’t able to give the overall book 5/5 stars. There were some stories that I just didn’t find any excitement in. It was also sometimes confusing as to what sort of person the story was talking about, getting to the point where I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Then again, the rest of the book was really interesting to read, so not entirely ruining my experience with the book.
Reasons to read Lot…
- Diverse and unique characters: Its the main reason I wanted to read this book in the very beginning. Each story offers up yet another number of characters that slowly start to make up the area of Houston in which the collection is set. Not one character is the same in this collection, and brings in different perspectives on sex, gender, sexuality, and class.
- Relatable main story: Yes, this is a collection of short stories, however, there is a main story that appears throughout. It is this story that I found the most interest in, watching as the main character grew and changed as the story progressed.
- Unfiltered writing: There are a lot of topics explored in this collection, all of which are given the attention they deserved, while offering a very stark opinion on each one. Its always refreshing to see themes like sex treated in a way that real people would talk about it. I’m aware parental guidance exists, but I do enjoy when a writer can really show the gritty reality of the world.
At the end of the day…
This is definitely a book that I would recommend for everyone to read. The collection is full of brilliant short stories that present LGBTQ+ POC in a realistic and insightful way. Having never been to Houston before and only seeing the “world” which is presented through the book in a more biased (racist) way, it was great to see this collection of people shown in a respectful way.
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