Paperback: 304 pages
Book Reviewed by Thumper
The Ancestors is an anthology featuring stories by authors L.A. Banks, Tananarive Due and Brandon Massey. I am always happy to come across science fiction or horror fiction written by African American authors because this portion of our literary canon is small and I would love for it to grow. I loved The Ancestors’well, not all of it. I despised L.A. Banks story, but then I have a history of not liking L.A. Banks' writing. Oh, well, two out of three Ain't bad. In this case, it is pretty damn good.
The Patriarch by Brandon Massey was an entertaining story. Danny Booker and his doctor girlfriend Asha travel to his maternal ancestor's home in Mississippi to learn more of Danny's family history. Danny will uncover a major family secret that will change his life and open a world of possibilities. The story was good. I enjoyed it. I liked it so much that I'm going to read more of Massey to see if my admiration is misplaced. Massey seemed to have become adept in the art of the short chapter. Whether it is novels, novellas and major works of history, if the author wants the reader to read and comprehend the work, create short chapters within the piece. Two of my favorite authors; Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark have the short chapters down to an art. It's would be good to add Massey to that list, but I'll have to read more of Massey to see if it's true or not.
Ev’ry Shut Eye Ain't Sleep by L.A. Banks. I knew when I got the book, before I turned the first page that L. A. Banks had a story in this collection. Banks is not one of my favorite authors, not by a long shot. I read Banks' Minion and hated it with a fiery red passion. By reading Ev’ry Shut Eye Ain't Sleep, I was giving Banks a second chance. Humph. I shouldn’t have been so generous. I hated this story. It made no damn sense. I broke my one major rule in reviewing books; I did not finish the story! It took me 3 weeks to get to page 56 out of the story's 116 pages. I had two main issues with the story. First, one of the main characters was crazy. Who in the hell wants to get inside the mind of a crazy person and stay? I don't! The second issue is the 20 page conversation. Banks has the most irritating habit of creating long ass conversations that bares no elements of real life dialogue that two people would have with each other. I cannot imagine two people having such a long conversation, especially if one of them is not getting paid to have it. I would bore my own self into a coma if I talked to myself that long!
The last story in the anthology is Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due. Ghost Summer is a wonderfully multi-layered story. Davie Stephens is a young boy whose parents are contemplating getting a divorce. While Davie's mother returns to her childhood home in Ghana, Davie's father takes Davie and his youngest sister Neema to his parents' home in Granville, Florida. Early in the visit, Davie sees ghosts and a live re-enactment of the ghosts' former human lives. Soon the re-enactments become interactive. Davie finds himself and his family lives are in danger, on the cusp of being destroyed by history. The pace of the story was slow at first, but picked up speed when the Stephens arrived in Florida. Due's ability to shift the story from the present to the past and then blend the two together was flawless. In many ways it reminded me of what Octavia Butler accomplished with her novel The Kindred. I loved Ghost Summer more than the last two Due novels that I read and disliked, Ghost House and Joplin's Ghost. I was about to put Due on the ’no read’ list. If Due's future writing is in the same vein as Ghost Summer, I'm going to have to stop myself from getting so excited.
The Ancestors is 2/3 of a wonderful anthology. Tananarive Due's Ghost Summer and Brandon Massey's The Patriarch are winners and make The Ancestors worth reading.