BLACK LIGHT by Kimberly King Parsons
Kirkus Star


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Stories that can make you believe that doing cocaine all day in a cheap motel is fun or that catching bugs is a great way to spend your childhood.

Parsons’ debut collection is not long on plot, but wisdom and humor are so thick on the ground you could find a sentence worth quoting on every page. “The first rule of filing is…nothing comes before something.” “There are tricks to coping with a surly person you’ve brought into the world. Focus on the positive.” “I have no idea why sports and religion intermingle—they just do. It seems some people take Jesus for a jock.” Two characters at the Starlite motel in Houston: “There are only two things people do in places like this….And we’ve already done all the drugs.” Only they haven’t—co-workers Jill and Rick are taking a holiday from their lives and from their spouses (code-named Eyelash and Kneecap at a previous happy hour), and new baggies of powder keep turning up right till quittin’ time. They are one of many memorable pairs in these stories, several of which are about the blurry line between friendship and love. The narrator of “Glow Hunter” is crazy about her friend Bo, who is just “more brightly lit than the rest of us.…I’ve seen strangers stop what they’re doing to watch her shake sugar into her tea.” Bo and the narrator have both been involved with a guy named Jeff, but what they really want is each other. The narrator of “Black Light” is in love with a point guard on the girls basketball team; she is counseled, then consoled by her older brother. (“ 'Dick,' he said, done with subtlety. 'She needs dick.' ”) Comparisons have been made to Denis Johnson, Karen Russell, Carmen Maria Machado…and we’ll add Angela Carter. The Angela Carter of Lubbock, Texas. It has a ring to it.

Just keeps getting better as you turn the pages.

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-525-56350-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Vintage
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2019