The Last Suspicious Holdout: Stories

Ladee Hubbard. Amistad, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-297909-4

Hubbard’s sweeping linked collection (after The Rib King) follows a Southern Black community through decades of inequities and unrest. In “Henry,” set in 1993, the title character balances running a bar with advocating for his brother, Leon Moore, whose murder conviction eight years earlier was questioned by members of the community. A newspaper article once called their neighborhood “hopelessly blighted,” as if its residents were to blame, but it was cut off from town by a highway project, and the police responded to dissent with violence, prompting Leon, before he was charged with murder, to form an activist group called Creative Unity Incorporated. “Bitch: An Etymology of Family Values” opens with Delia Montgomery, the wife of a Black councilman, receiving a call from a woman named Millie, who tells her about her affair with Delia’s husband. Hubbard delves intriguingly into the complex feelings of the two women and their reactions to the situation along with other women in their lives, blending rich dialogue and various points of view. The title story finds Millie working in 2001 for the Leon Moore Center for Creative Unity, which gets a reputation for “lawlessness” after the name is tagged on buildings around town. Meanwhile, an auditor investigates some murky financial accounting at the organization. The final story, “Paulie Speaks,” brings a poignant and tragic end to the Moores’ story. Hubbard’s engaging chorus of voices and well-drawn cast make this resonate. (Mar.)
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