cover image Sea, Swallow Me and Other Stories

Sea, Swallow Me and Other Stories

Craig Laurance Gidney, . . Lethe Press, $13 (204pp) ISBN 978-1-590210-66-6

The best of the stories in this thoughtful debut collection make full use of African and African-American characters, such as when young slave Israel Jones meets a man he's convinced is the guitar-wielding Devil in “The Safety of Thorns,” or when white tourist Jed encounters Olokun, the patron spirit of enslaved Africans carried across the sea, in the title story. Some of Gidney's experiments with style hit the mark, as in a tale of Arthur Rimbaud riding a French train without a ticket in “Strange Alphabets,” but homoerotic encounters don't always mix well with folklore-like storytelling, and rich details sometimes pull readers in and sometimes leave the stories feeling saturated and drawn out. Those who don't mind a little digging should find several gems. (Jan.)