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Jamel Brinkley Books In Order

Publication Order of Collections

A Lucky Man: Stories (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Jamel Brinkley is American author of short stories. He is best known for his A Lucky Man (2018) short stories and Night is One Long Everlasting a standalone novel. Jamel Brinkley was born and spent his childhood in Brooklyn and Bronx, New York. Brinkley is a member of Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and he’s also a Kimbilio Fellow. His A Lucky Man: Story was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for fiction category. Jamel Brinkley’s writing has been featured in Gulf Coast, The Best American Short Stories 2018, The Threepenny Review, American Short Fiction and The Threepenny Review. Brinkley contributed in Ploughshares, a short story collection featuring works by other short story authors.

A Lucky Man

We live in a cultural era where men’s predatory behaviour- at parties, in the workplace, in the White House, in our living rooms- has wrung dry any bits of grace that ascertains the quote that “boys will be boys”. Critics have for ages tried to hunt down that statement wherever it’s mentioned, and men only wish it a quick extinction.

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley is a wonderful debut short story collection. In his first book, Jamel Brinkley explores black men under both bottled up tenderness and pressurized violence that undoes each character at every turn. It’s a story that acknowledges male stereotypes while at the same time exploring and subverting the psychic damage each leaves in his or her wake.

The author builds his short stories over the low clatter of life: small boys getting haircuts to make them look like men, college graduates preying on girls, grown men prey for anything that would make them feel whole and teenage boys prey for a glance up the skirt.

The author describes the women how the men hunting them see them. In No More Than a Bubble, two men attend a Harvard party thinking that the women there wore much better, wore tinier underwears than other girls they knew. The women in these short stories are creatures of mysterious ways and full of wiles. While Brinkley writes from the point of view of his characters, he’s written with precision towards the female gender making men who prowl after them witness a complex dimensionality.

All the nine short stories in A Lucky Man share similar architecture, but the endings are so luminous and ethereal that the reader is hardly bothered. These stories find their footing on the harsh edge of gender performativity.

I Happy Am is a story about a young boy living in the slums with his mother. He is severely depressed after his sister died and decided to go to St. Rita Day Camp to join other campers. They expect to visit a home of a wealthy white couple where they would swim and eat plenty of food. To their surprise, they arrive at the home of an African American woman with a small swimming pool and not so good food. Before lunch, French gets into a fight with another boy resulting to them being denied to play for the remainder of the trip.

in Wolf and Rhonda, we are introduced to Rhonda and Wolf who went to Catholic High School. While Rhoda was always picked up for she was fat, Wolf was a bad boy pushing and exceeding the limits. He and his father were great friends until but then everything changed, and the two were loggerheads. During a class reunion years later, Rhoda shows up, and Wolf shows up as well but wants to relieve an experience they had years back as seniors. This is the only story in A Lucky Man where the readers get to hear from a woman as both Wolf and Rhonda tell their personal experiences.

In the nine short stories, fathers and sons trying to rescue relationships with family and friends, and they confront mistakes of the past. An imaginative young man from the Bronx goes swimming with his buddies and faces the consequences of privilege and power in unimaginable ways. Then there is the teen trying to prove himself as a man but can’t help but to look after his impressionable young brother. James stories, in a debut that announced the arrival of a major voice in the literary world, reflect the vulnerability and tenderness of black men and teenage boys whose their high hopes at times betray them especially in a world shaped by gender, race and social classes.

Ploughshares

Ploughshares is a collection of short stories by Jamel Brinkley and other authors including Sandra Cisneros, Lan Samantha Chang Deborah Einsenberg et-al.
In Music Night, an American professor spends her summers on an island bringing alongside her daughter and her lover. This story tells of the couple’s attempt to figure out their non-traditional relationship. The couple is drawn together, but there are obstacles along the way that prevent them from giving themselves over to each other fully. The tension in the story is light, and the professor’s little girl named Aspa is adorable.

Love makes men do weird, stupid things like declaring a hunger strike in support of the terrorists. Students sharing room go through roommate arguments and angst which results to them all supporting their college through his hunger strike. The story is well written with some gruesome effects of going weeks without food.

In Milk Blood Heat story by Dantiel W. Moniz, we are introduced to two best friends Kiera and Ava navigating the early stages of teenage years together. However, Ava’s parents don’t approve the friendship. These two girls talk of all the things that any 13-year-old girl would be obsessed with, but at the same time they’re trying to hang onto their imaginations as well as their childhood, but in the end, one of the girls makes a very “adult” decision.

How to Become a Monster tells the heart-wrenching story of the corruption of Dillon, the author’s boyfriend-Nyssa Chow as he joins the police department on Trinidad. We watch Dillon through Nyssa’s eyes as he starts as a recruit and then overcome by the cruelty of everyday life.

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