Last Summer & Other Stories

Davida Kilgore, Author New Rivers Press $7.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-89823-103-8
Kilgore's debut, this slim collection of short fiction, offers an impressive array of distinct characters. The voices here are those of black women eloquently articulating their experience, sometimes in dialect. The title story, subtitled "" `How I Spent My Summer Vacation' by Diana Lancaster,'' is an adolescent's moving account of confronting, simultaneously, the beginning of sexual life and her best friend's death. ``Bingo'' is a detailed rendering of a small-town bingo game at which a desperate-to-win elderly woman meets with a tragic end. In ``Three Alarm Fire,'' a five-year-old narrator devises a plan to make her mother happy by burning down the house and collecting the insurance payment. Every piece conveys a struggleeither with poverty, domestic violence, death or with simply being a black person in Americaoften complemented by a generous helping of irresistible humor. In ``The Day We Discovered We Were Black,'' fourth-grader Denise Robinson complains: ``I don't know who that Francis Scott Key was thinking about when he wrote our national anthem, but he sure wasn't thinking about us . . . or he would have put the notes closer for us to reach.'' When the class butchers the high notes and laughs about it, their white teacher unleashes a racial slur on one boy that changes forever the children's outlook on life: ``And that's when we divided the world up into black people and white people.'' (April)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1988
Release date: 04/01/1988
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