Summary and book reviews of A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley

A Lucky Man

Stories

by Jamel Brinkley

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley X
A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley
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  • Published:
    May 2018, 264 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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About this Book

Book Summary

Jamel Brinkley's stories reflect the tenderness and vulnerability of black men and boys whose hopes sometimes betray them, especially in a world shaped by race, gender, and class - where luck may be the greatest fiction of all.

In the nine expansive, searching stories of A Lucky Man, fathers and sons attempt to salvage relationships with friends and family members and confront mistakes made in the past.

An imaginative young boy from the Bronx goes swimming with his group from day camp at a backyard pool in the suburbs, and faces the effects of power and privilege in ways he can barely grasp. A teen intent on proving himself a man through the all-night revel of J'Ouvert can't help but look out for his impressionable younger brother. A pair of college boys on the prowl follow two girls home from a party and have to own the uncomfortable truth of their desires. And at a capoeira conference, two brothers grapple with how to tell the story of their family, caught in the dance of their painful, fractured history.

I HAPPY AM

When Freddy became a robot, a special map appeared in his mind. It alerted him to obstacles and told him the fastest way from here to there. One morning, instead of waiting for the elevator, he flew down the dozen flights of stairs, careful to leap over a big puddle of urine on the landing of the fourth floor. Outside, he ducked through the hole in the busted playground's fence. In the alley behind the liquor store, a homeless woman with a shopping cart shuffled into his path. He closed his eyes and clenched his metal fists as he crashed into her. The woman's stink exploded like a bomb, but it couldn't harm him. As he sped past, she yelled a lot of bad words, an enemy wailing in defeat. St. Rita's Day Camp was only a few blocks away, but by the time he arrived it was already past nine o'clock.

The other kids in his group had boarded the van. Sister Pamela stood in front of the day camp, her back pressed against the gate of the squat building. Her ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The essence of A Lucky Man can perhaps be best summed up by Brinkley's approach to the craft of writing, in an interview he gave to The San Francisco Chronicle: "I finally got to the point where I'm taking...writing seriously, so what's the rush now? What's the point of bulldozing my way?" That measured attitude leads to less histrionics but more pathos, as his mostly black, male characters grapple with the complexities of navigating everyday life in the United States where the chips are mostly stacked against them.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Full Review Members Only (576 words).

Media Reviews

Nylon
Spectacular. ... Quite simply stunning. ... [Jamel Brinkley] shines a light on difficult truths.

The Root
An unmissable debut short story collection, Jamel Brinkley's poignant A Lucky Man is revelatory in its crafting of prose and language. A wonderful read.

Library Journal
Fully developed stories that readers will savor.

Publishers Weekly
The nine stories in Brinkley's promising debut address persistent issues of race, class, and masculinity across three decades of New York City's history, from Manhattan's corporatization in the mid-'90s to the outer boroughs' gentrification today.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A major talent

Booklist
Starred Review. With this memorable collection, Brinkley emerges as a gifted and empathetic new writer.

Author Blurb Garth Greenwell
This is the rare debut that introduces not a promising talent but a major writer, fully formed.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Art of Capoeira

In "Everything the Mouth Eats," one of the stories in A Lucky Man, the martial art/dance form of capoeira takes center stage.

Capoeira or the Dance of War by Johann Moritz RugendasCapoeira originated in Brazil possibly among enslaved Africans who were brought to work the land for the Portuguese overlords. The South American country was ruled by the Portuguese from 1500 to 1815 and during this time the slave trade reached Brazil as well. It is said that capoeira originated as a dance form, a means of expression among the slaves who fled to form autonomous colonies in the hinterlands, known as quilombos.

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, urban migration brought the art form to major city centers yet for decades capoeira was perceived as an outlawed practice. Capoeiristas in a RodaRecognition and ...

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