Excerpt from Memorial by Bryan Washington, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Memorial

by Bryan Washington

Memorial by Bryan Washington X
Memorial by Bryan Washington
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Oct 2020, 320 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

1.

Mike's taking off for Osaka, but his mother's flying into Houston.

Just for a few weeks, he says.

Or maybe a couple of months, he says. But I need to go.

The first thing I think is: fuck.

The second's that we don't have the money for this.

Then, it occurs to me that we don't have any savings at all. But Mike's always been good about finances, always cool about separating his checks. It's something I'd always taken for granted about him.

Now, he's saying that he wants to find his father. The man's gotten sick. Mike wants to catch him before he goes. And I'm on the sofa, half-listening, half charging my phone.

You haven't seen your mom in years, I say. She's coming for you. I've never met her.

I say, You don't even fucking like your dad.

True, says Mike. But I already bought the ticket.

And Ma will be here when I'm back, says Mike. You're great company. She'll live.

He's cracking eggs by the stove, slipping yolks into a pair of pans. After they've settled, he salts them, drizzling mayonnaise with a few sprigs of oregano. Mike used to have this thing about sriracha, he'd pull a hernia whenever I reached for it, but now he squeezes a faded bottle over my omelette, rubbing it in with the spatula.

I don't ask where he'll stay in Japan. I don't ask who he's staying with. I don't ask where his mother will sleep here, in our one bedroom apartment, or exactly what that arrangement will look like. The thing about a moving train is that, sometimes, you can catch it. Some of the kids I work with, that's how their families make it into this country. If you fall, you're dead. If you're too slow, you're dead. But if you get a running start, it's never entirely gone.

So I don't flip the coffee table. Or one of our chairs. I don't key his car or ram it straight through the living room. After the black eye, we stopped putting our hands on each other -- we'd both figured, silently, it was the least we could do.

Today, what I do is smile.

I thank Mike for letting me know.

I ask him when he's leaving, and I know that's my mistake. I'm already reaching to toss my charger before he says it, tomorrow.

*

We've been fine. Thank you for asking.

*

Our relationship is, what, four years old? But that depends on how you count. We haven't been to a party in months, and when we did go to parties, at first, no one knew we were fucking. Mike just stood to the side while whatever white girl talked her way into my space, then he'd reach up over my shoulder to slip a finger into my beer.

Or he'd sneeze, stretch, and wipe his nose with my shirt sleeve.

Or he'd fondle my wallet, slowly, patting it back into place.

Once, at a dinner, right under the table, he held court with a hand in my lap. Running his thumb over the crotch. Every now and again, someone would look and you could tell when they finally saw. They'd straightened their backs. Smile a little too wide. Then Mike would ask what was wrong, and they'd promise it was nothing, and he'd go right back to cheesing, never once nodding my way.

We knew how we looked. And how we didn't look. But one night, a few weeks back, at a bar crawl for Mike's job, all it took was a glance at us. He works at a coffee shop in Montrose. It's this fusion thing where they butcher rice bowls and eggrolls -- although, really, it's Mexican food, since unless your name is Mike that's who's cooking.

They'd been open for a year. This was their anniversary celebration. Mike volunteered us to help for an hour, flipping tortillas on a burner by the DJ.

I felt miserable. Mike felt miserable. Everyone who passed us wore this look that said, Mm. They touched our shoulders. Asked how long we'd been together. Wondered where we'd met, how we'd managed during Harvey, and the music was too fucking loud so Mike and I just sort of shrugged.

Excerpted from Memorial by Bryan Washington. Copyright © 2020 by Bryan Washington. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Souvenir Museum
    The Souvenir Museum
    by Elizabeth McCracken
    Elizabeth McCracken's book The Souvenir Museum is composed of 12 short stories populated by ...
  • Book Jacket: First Person Singular
    First Person Singular
    by Haruki Murakami
    Readers familiar with Haruki Murakami will know that music is often a central theme in his work. The...
  • Book Jacket: Yolk
    Yolk
    by Mary Choi
    Mary H.K. Choi's young adult offering Yolk deftly maintains several plotlines running through the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Blizzard Party
    The Blizzard Party
    by Jack Livings
    It is 1978 and the place is New York City. A massive bacchanalian party is taking place at an Upper ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Widow Queen
    by Elzbieta Cherezinska

    The epic story of an 11th century Polish queen whose life and name were all but forgotten until now.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    Of Women and Salt
    by Gabriela Garcia

    A kaleidoscopic portrait of generations of women from a 19th-century Cuban cigar factory to the present day.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Miss Austen
by Gill Hornby
A witty, poignant novel about Cassandra Austen and her famous sister, Jane.
Who Said...

We should have a great fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

P M Fly

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.