A review by toasternoodle
Five-Carat Soul by James McBride


Above all, my favorite quality of [a:James McBride|11728|James McBride|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1400174756p2/11728.jpg]'s writing is his effortless conversational style, which of course reaches the dialogue but really drives the entire narrative. It is like hearing someone tell their story the way they would tell the damn story across the dinner table among friends, not glitzy and delicate and pretty filler synonyms. It captures guilt and shame and deep aches just as well as the mirth and wisdom and cheekiness. He has Toni Morrison's elder observational eye and Richard Pryor's comedic spring. I loved his writing from the minute I opened [b:Deacon King Kong|51045613|Deacon King Kong|James McBride|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1570443527l/51045613._SX50_.jpg|76287204] two years ago. All these stories reflect his deep neighborly familiarity with Brooklyn, his hometown.

I also appreciate the age (and life range, when it comes to the animal POV in Mr. P & the Wind) and liveliness illustrated in these vignettes, which read like complete mini stories. A gripe I have reading short story collections is that they often feel like test-drive chapters of undeveloped worlds (which is often exactly what they are, and there is a beauty in that). But I love to get swept away in a tale, and it is a treasure to read short stories that hold you in complete worlds ([b:Sightseeing|212246|Sightseeing|Rattawut Lapcharoensap|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1347713953l/212246._SX50_.jpg|859221] by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, [b:Exhalation|41160292|Exhalation|Ted Chiang|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1534388394l/41160292._SX50_.jpg|64336454] by Ted Chiang, select portions of [b:Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self|7840634|Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self|Danielle Evans|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1348725993l/7840634._SY75_.jpg|10931319] by Danielle Evans).

"The Christmas Dance" had me ugly crying while cooking dinner. "Mr P. & the Wind" reminded me of Ted Chiang's "The Lifecycle of Software Objects". "The Under Graham Railroad Box Car Set" was a perfect opening story.