The Thing With Willie: Stories of Two Families
Sagstetter tells the tales of two families—one white and one African-American—and explores their differing paths from the Great Depression through the end of the 20th century. Willie, an African-American oysterman in Galveston, Tex., kills himself as the Depression takes its toll on his family. His daughter later goes to Vietnam as a translator and falls in love with a Vietnamese man—an affair that leads to tragedy. These are some of the many loosely interwoven vignettes that make up this collection, which asks readers to reflect on humanity, and interpersonal and intercultural relationships. It is difficult, at times, to see the connections between Sagstetter's stories, although each one works independently of the others. Readers will appreciate the attention to setting and character in each of the stories, but will struggle to find unifying meaning from tale to tale.