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Fiction Reviews 

Blackberries, Blackberries
by Crystal E. Wilkinson
Toby Press, 2000
ISBN: 1-902881-34-6

 

Crystal Wilkinson has created eighteen juicy character sketches of black women that live up to the allusion of “Blackberries”.  Some stories have the wholesomeness of tales told among family on the front porch.  Others possess an earthy sensuality that cry to be told from the stage in a smoke-filled club.  All the stories should be read aloud to appreciate the talent of this storyteller. 

“Music for Meriah” is the heartbreaking tale of Meriah Clay, who follows jazz pianist Osmond from club to club.  She is seduced by the way his fingers massage the keys of his jazz piano then massage her shoulders.  Still living with her mother, Meriah leaves home to join her musician, only to discover he is playing a different tune. 

“Hushed” is the tender love story of two misfits.  Naoma is an abused unwanted teenager, and Clifton is a deaf mute.  They recognize each other’s pain and revel in the mirror of beauty they find in each other’s eyes.  

“Girl Talk” shows the discomfort of a boy growing up in a house filled with women.  However, all that “girl talk” gives Bruce insight in the pain of John F., the child of an overprotective mother.  When Bruce invites John F. to play with the boys, John F. discovers the joys of dirt. 

“Chocolate Divine” is the delicious tale of Leon and June – two party animals used to being the center of attention.  They each shine in their own light, but when together it’s fireworks.   

“Humming Back Yesterday” is the heartrending story of Aberdeen as she waits for the birth of her child with Clovis.  Memories of her stepfather’s abuse arise, and she hums to make the memories fade away.   

“Mine” is the laugh out loud reflections of a man’s possession of his women’s breasts.  The reduction of these sacred objects by his ex-wife horrifies him.  It also makes him attack his current wife like a teenager eager to hold the bounty. 

“Tipping the Scales” is the funny and tender romance of Josephine Childs, a big woman who takes love where she finds it.  This search for approval leaves her with a growing house of children by different and non-committal fathers.  Then one day, love walks into the diner.  

“Mules” is the disgusting story of a white man who has his way with young black girls for a dollar or two.  Lottie just wants the “easy” money to escape, but the story’s narrator rejects the dirty old man’s advances with a hard kick like that of a stubborn mule. 

“No Ugly Ways” is the eye-opening story of how a beautiful and pious young girl is ill prepared to protect herself from the ugliness in the world.   

Drawing on her rural Kentucky background, Crystal Wilkinson has produced breathing characters that hop off the page and enter the reader’s conscience as well as touch their heart. 

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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