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Shades : Detroit love stories
2019
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Author Notes
Esperanza Cintrón is the author of three books of poetry that include Chocolate City Latina, the 2013 Naomi Long Madgett Award winner What Keeps Me Sane, and Visions of a Post-Apocalyptic Sunrise. She is a native Detroiter of Puerto Rican descent who holds a doctorate in English literature and teaches at a local college.
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Kirkus Review
In this debut collection of interlocking short stories that span decades, Detroit is both the setting and a character itself.The Detroit of these stories can be both brutal and familial: Its men and women work, drink, and live hard. Big auto is ubiquitousas are the constant undercurrents of class and racial tensionand sex is a commodity as often as it's not. Men are often violent toward women, even if they love them. Divided into two sections, Eastside and Westside, which comprise nine stories each, the book begins in the 1960s and extends at least into the '80stime and place are occasionally difficult to pinpoint. Certain vernacular and dialogue skew contemporary, as in the first story, "The Beard," which takes place in the 1960s and includes the line, "She look at me all bug-eyed and shit." The scope of the book can contribute to a sense of confusion. While a large cast of characters and their complicated web of relationships are vital to the tone and structure of the stories, the sheer number of characters and the ways they relate to one another are a lot to keep track of, particularly when the same character is called both George and Scooter. Cintrn has a flair for description and can conjure a mood in a single phrase like "The church is full of Grandma," or "She sat back, enjoying the smell of leather upholstery and the occasional breeze from the river." While evocative, Cintrn's descriptions often take the form of dense paragraphs, which don't allow her characters much room to breathe or talk. Cintrn is the author of three poetry collections, which shows late in the book when she inserts descriptive stanzas that move and lilt in a way their prose counterparts do not: "lunchtime on the waterfront / just me and george watching / animated sisters filing out of office buildings / coalescing around food vendors / trucks and three-wheeled wagons / the smell of hot dogs and tamales." Resonant though imperfect, Cintrn's stories insist we pay attention to the nuance and texture of life. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Esperanza Cintrón's Shades: Detroit Love Stories is a short story collection that is distinctly Detroit. By touching on a number of romantic and sexual encounters that span the historical and temporal spaces of the city, each of these interconnected stories examines the obstacles an individual faces and the choices he or she makes in order to cope and hopefully, survive in the changing urban landscape. Shades begins in the 1960s by following two young, black women who are determined to find joy in their lives even as they struggle to make ends meet. Their lives continue to evolve under triumphant and disappointing conditions-falling in and out of love, giving birth, raising children, and struggling to ""make it"" despite disappointing and tenuous love affairs and relationships. The setting throughout the eighteen stories shifts as these women age and their children extend the timeline, reflecting on the city's social and political changes over three decades, as well as the pitfalls, tragedies, and opportunities these linked families encounter. Cintrón favors an everyday vernacular for her characters' voices in order to reflect the complexities of their working/middle-class, ethnic, and racial identities. Divided into two sections, Eastside and Westside, the collection gives a nod to the sometimes contentious geographical split marked by Woodward Avenue. Cintrón takes readers through city streets-from neighborhood bars to burger joints-while painting lyrical portraits of the unique and multifaceted characters whose honesty shatters the illusion of endless love and happily-ever-after fantasies, as they clash with the circumstances of economics and race.Cintrón's stories capture the rhythms of language and the poetry of the people and will interest readers of fiction or poetry who seek to understand love.
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