cover image Harbors


Donald Quist. Awst, $16 (136p) ISBN 978-0-9971938-1-7

Quist's (Let Me Make You a Sandwich) collection of personal essays is tender, smart, funny, and rich with emotional truths and pop culture references. Each essay covers a range of emotions and topics, blending the serious with the playful. His story begins with a schoolyard fight at the elementary school he attended in a Washington, D.C., suburb, and ends in Thailand, where he reflects on the new challenges and greater sense of freedom he feels there as an African-American. Engaging with U.S. history, he considers questions of belonging, asking, "Can one feel a sense of citizenship in a place they've been made to fear?" He also writes about growing up in a multigenerational household, sketching in each member honestly, flaws and all. With an unpretentious yet searing quality to his writing, Quist can move from racial politics in the United States to lessons learned from growing up with Jerry Springer episodes, all with vivid detail and visceral imagery. Each essay, whether it's about the complicated dual life of his granduncle or his summer job at Spencer Gifts at the mall, the newness of Thai culture or the familiarity of American daytime television, includes both the darkly comic and the seriously contemplative. Quist's collection is poignant, shrewd, and delightful to read. (Sept.)