Elwin Cotman

Författare till Dance on Saturday: Stories

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Verk av Elwin Cotman

Dance on Saturday: Stories (2020) 50 exemplar
Weird Black Girls: Stories (2024) 13 exemplar
The Jack Daniels Sessions EP (2010) 5 exemplar
Hard Times Blues (2013) 2 exemplar


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A collection of very strange stories, probably best classified as speculative fiction, with themes of identity, race, power, and human nature. Cotman has been hailed as a bold new voice for black authors. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy any of the stories nor did I understand them. Just too far out there for me.
skipstern | 7 andra recensioner | Jul 11, 2021 |
I always look forward to a new read from Small Beer Press, but I'm afraid this collection just didn't live up to my expectations. The title novella, Dance on Saturday, is without a doubt the jewel of the collection--it's smart, engaging, unique, and just a fascinating read in general. If I were writing a review of the novella alone, vs. the whole collection, it would probably be at least a 4* read from me, and likely would have made me a fan of the author who'd look forward to his future work. But, as it is, the work as a whole is barely a 3* read, and I admit that I had trouble making it through some of the stories.

Although the title novella is gorgeously crafted, the other stories suffer from fatal flaws--a few of them are, very simply, too long by half, and so drawn out that the interesting concepts at the heart of them end up fading simply because they're expected to carry so much weight. Others feel like they could actually be longer, or suffer from the story being so focused on exploring the concept--often in a way that seems directed by what can potentially have some shock value, more than anything else--that there's no real character or depth for a reader to engage with. What was frustrating for me as a reader was that I was fascinated by every single one of Cotman's concepts, but for one reason or another, the way he explored each one left me more disappointed than engaged. And while I'm not a reader who shies away from either erotic or gory content, the way Cotman also seemed inclined to celebrate the crude and go for a shock factor left me more annoyed than anything.

All told, this was a disappointing collection, and while I thought Cotman's concepts were fascinating, and enjoyed the novella at the heart of the collection, I can't say that I'll seek out this author in the future. I think this is the first book from Small Beer Press that hasn't been at least a 4* read from me, so I'll certainly keep seeking out their works, but I wasn't the right reader for this one.
… (mer)
whitewavedarling | 7 andra recensioner | Jun 27, 2021 |
DANCE ON SATURDAY is a splendid collection of fantasy or fantasy-adjacent stories that play out in multiple veins. The mind of author Elwin Cotman proves itself to be intriguing, brilliant, and more than a little weird (in the best possible ways). There's a fairytale that takes place in "Job Corps," some kind of semi-punitive rehabilitation center for young men; a pantheon of forgetful immortals whose long lives are owed to fruit; a vision of Hell at a high school volleyball tournament; and a wild, hilarious ride through a landscape that's one part BDSM fantasy, one part D&D adventure, and one part zoologist jargon. Six lengthy stories in all, each one taking its own sweet time to unfold. I don't always like very long short stories—I can't stand when authors seem to be meandering self-indulgently—but Cotman's tales never flagged for me. Each one was a complete and self-contained world (although Cotman doesn't feel the need to answer every question he provokes, meaning the stories tend to linger and pulsate in the mind long after they're over).

His vision, centered on Black characters and Blackness, stands out as needed and expertly expressed, and his absolute technical prowess makes Cotman's brand of urban fantasy and magical realism truly essential 21st-century reading. Fans of Kelly Link will find lots of to enjoy here (and in fact this is published by Small Beer Press, which Link founded with Gavin Grant in 2000). The writing is excellent, the range of characters and characterizations sensitive (I especially appreciate how well Cotman captures genuine wisdom in the title story), and his meld of the troubling with piercing insight truly something special.
… (mer)
1 rösta
Xiguli | 7 andra recensioner | Sep 11, 2020 |
Boy, did I hit the jackpot when I received an ARC of this book - it's such a thrill to discover an under-the-radar author with so much talent! I'm not his mother or his hostage, honest.

Cotman's stories have the same mix of ordinary and fantastical as those of Karen Russell or Kelly Link, but are in no way derivative of them. His imagination and his voice are very much his own, and his writing feels effortless and perfect. The fantasy/speculative genre has long been the whitest of white spaces, and Cotman brings some much needed diversity in character and sensibility. Here's a taste, spoken through one of his church-lady characters (who happens to be immortal):

"There was a time I was sad to be black. I would look around and all I saw was suffering. I would ask the powers, 'Why do they treat us so bad?' I hated the powers for what they had done. But I learned the pride. That I was of a people who could take all the hate and poison of this world, and laugh, and go dance on Saturday. And my brothers and sisters weren't just the ones I grew up with. Now I had many."

The stories are about 30-ish pages long (plus one superb novella), which gives Cotman the room to fully flesh out his worlds and characters. Each story is so different and so fascinating. My favorite is the novella-length story that gives the book it's title. It's about a small group of immortals who have established the Fruit of Jehovah Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, PA. They appear to be a bunch of black senior citizens, complete with church ladies in big hats and puttering deacons, but appearances are magically deceiving. The plot alone is entertaining, but Cotman gives each of these characters a depth and poignancy that takes the story to a whole other level. My next favorite story, "Among the Zoologists" takes us to a zoology conference that's like an X-rated, S&M Lord of the Rings. Seriously. Other stories involve demonic possession in a middle school girls volleyball game, life in a Pittsburgh juvie, a steampunk-ish African fantasy, and a Dickensian story of orphans in an early 20th century city. Like I said, an imagination with no bounds. The cover of the ARC says Cotman is working on a novel. I can hardly wait.
… (mer)
1 rösta
badube | 7 andra recensioner | Jul 19, 2020 |



½ 3.7

Tabeller & diagram