Lotby Published 19 Mar 2019
Stories of a young man finding his place among family and community in Houston, from a powerful, emerging American voice.
In the city of Houston - a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America - the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He's working at his family's restaurant, weathering his brother's blows, resenting his older sister's absence. And discovering he likes boys.
This boy and his family experience the tumult of living in the margins, the heartbreak of ghosts, and the braveries of the human heart. The stories of others living and thriving and dying across Houston's myriad neighborhoods are woven throughout to reveal a young woman's affair detonating across an apartment complex, a rag-tag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and a reluctant chupacabra.
Bryan Washington's brilliant, viscerally drawn world leaps off the page with energy, wit, and the infinite longing of people searching for home. With soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot is about love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms.
Why I love it
by Mat Johnson
I’m the greediest kind of fiction reader, because I want it all. I want a book that grabs me in a headlock and won’t let me put it down without a fight. I want a book with characters and conflicts that pull me in. I want a book that haunts me long after I’ve read its final page. I want it to let me see the world in a fresh way that’s been there the whole time yet has eluded me so far. And I got all this, and more, from Bryan Washington’s Lot.
Lot is a linked collection of stories that reads like a novel. Connected largely by a central, unnamed young man who carries the reader on his shoulders, it’s a portrait of the far back corner of Lockwood, a diverse, working-class neighborhood in Houston, Texas. A place where families struggle with how to be their true selves and survive at the same time. But Lot’s so much more than that.
The best way I can describe this book is that it’s alive. You don’t read Lot: It speaks to you, through a voice on the page so real, so intimate, you can almost hear it breathing in your ear. Debut author Bryan Washington is already a master storyteller, and this is just one of the many truths Lot shares with us.
Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/lot-444
"It didn't take long to see that there's the world you live in, and then there are the constellations around it, and you'll never know you're missing them if you don't even know to look up."
Lot , Bryan Washington's new story collection, is raw, potent, and packs a powerful, emotional punch.
Taking place in Houston before and after Hurricane Harvey, many of the stories focus on one young man, the son of an erstwhile Latino father and a black mother, as he grows into adulthood, confronts the prejudice and the social and economic realities of the community he lives in, this community of immigrants.
At the same time, he comes to terms with his sexuality, although he never views his encounters with other boys and men as anything more than physical.
There are stories exploring the complicated relationships in broken families, the expectations of masculinity, the treatment of women as often little more than sexual objects and maids, and the menial and dangerous jobs boys and men living in these neighborhoods turn to. Washington's stories explore what makes a community, what makes a family, what makes a life.
Washington's stories aren't quite happy. Even those that appear to have a more positive spin have a tinge of sadness or elements of disaster or trouble just around the corner. But many of the stories work despite their tone because of Washington's tremendous writing abilityhis use of language, his talent with imagery which conjures images of setting and character in your head.
While I didn't love all of the stories, some really stuck with me, including: "Alief," in which a community reveals a neighbor's affair to her husband but is unprepared for the destruction that might cause; "610 North, 610 West," where a son is brought face-to-face with his father's infidelity; "Shepherd," which tells of how the visit of a cousin from Jamaica causes chaos among family members; "South Congress," about an interesting relationship between a local drug dealer and a teenager who barely speaks English; and my favorite story, "Waugh," about a group of young hustlers.
I'm a big fan of short stories, although I've not read many collections this year. I was definitely struck by the power and poignancy of Washington's voice, and I think Lot hints at the amazing career ahead of him.
See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.
Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.
You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
A moving and unique collection of stories set in Houston, TX. I enjoyed that nearly half or more of the stories were told from the perspective of one character, while the others sprinkled throughout gave glimpses into the lives of various types of people around him in the city. At times I found myself a bit disconnected, and a few of the stories were not very memorable. But the ones that did hit me the right way really stand out. And as a debut this was pretty solid.
I read and reviewed this book for Lambda Literary, where my full review can be found.
Introspective and understated, Lot gives voice to the silenced pain of Houston’s Black and Latinx working class. The collection of thirteen linked short stories alternates between tracking an unnamed narrator’s coming of age and exploring the diverse experiences of the boy’s fellow Houstonians. In terse prose, author Bryan Washington fully renders the inner lives of gay men struggling to endure the hardships of poverty and racism, while also sketching a nuanced portrait of a gentrifying city. The collection expertly charts Houston’s social life and power dynamics, photographing the city at a moment of rapid development.
"Bayou" and "Navigation" are high points in this fantastic collection. The only miss here is the longest selection, "Waugh", which I never connected with. "Elgin" was the best possible tale to end with. This is one of the best written debuts I've read. I'll be watching out for future releases by this amazing author.
You can find my video review here: https://youtu.be/ohuROftVFfM