The Big Mama Stories

Shay Youngblood, Author Firebrand Books $9.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-932379-57-3
These folktale-like stories, told by a young woman about her ``mamas''--the several women who raised her following the death of her mother--capture the dialect and climate of the black South of the '60s. Each work centers around one of the mamas; the narrative voice throughout is intimate and assured--Youngblood maintains a near-flawless cadence and a consistent tone with subtlety and grace. Unfortunately, a taut style cannot compensate for the flatness of her characters and the predictability of their actions. The issues addressed in this fiction debut--obsessive love, parenting, loyalty, continuity, the initiation of a girl into womanhood--are trivialized by cursory treatment of the characters and superficial interpretations. Incompletely or insufficiently differentiated, Youngblood's women begin to blur. Although she may have intended to overlap their personalities in order to demonstrate that the combined resources of many ``mamas'' in raising the protagonist are more effective than those of one woman alone, the resulting homogeneity inhibits this collection. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
Hardcover - 106 pages - 978-0-932379-58-0
Paperback - 138 pages - 978-1-4818-4777-3
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