Kevin Wilson, Baby You’re Gonna Be Mine (2018)

Contrary to my very rational purchasing habits, I totally chose this book at random. Just because it was a short story collection and that the blurb on the cover was signed by Ann Patchett. It took me a while to get to read it because I couldn’t decide if the title was tacky or voluntarily shocking, especially with the art cover of an opened razor blade.

In the spring of last year, after another round of lockdown, we went to Paris city center and to the iconic Shakespeare and Co bookshop: of course I had to buy something to celebrate that day! But I confess that faced with literal piles of books up to the ceiling, my brain froze and I couldn’t come up with any title from my TBR list. How frustrating! In the end I just took the first short story collection I could find. (BTW, why aren’t collections given a dedicated shelf in bookshops and libraries? There is a shelf for poetry, one for theater…)

Ok, back to Kevin Wilson. The collection starts rather low-key with a story, Scroll through the weapons, told by a young man whose girlfriend needs to suddenly take care of her neglected nephews and nieces. It was a bit raw, a bit social, I had not enough knowledge to understand where in the US is supposed to happen, and if the family was white trash or Black, but I decided it didn’t matter to me: the voice felt authentic, I felt pulled into the story. The narrator lands into a weird, bad situation and tries to make the best of it. This is the case for most of the stories in the collection.

The best story is without a doubt Wildfire Johnny. I don’t know where Wilson got this weird idea, but wow, this story is brilliant and would make me buy the book all over again even if the other stories were crap, which is not the case. I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but go and read that story.

Other stories were very good too, not at the level of Wildfire Johnny but still striking: Sanders for a night, when a single mother is faced with her son’s heartbreaking choice of Halloween costume. A signal for the faithful, about an unlikely friendship between a boy and a Catholic priest. (I was bracing for the cliché sob story of abuse, but no. Wilson does almost always go for the unexpected.)

This collection made me curious to read more stories by Kevin Wilson. A lucky random choice!

2 thoughts on “Kevin Wilson, Baby You’re Gonna Be Mine (2018)

  1. Pingback: SoloBloPoMo: The Weird Edition | Smithereens

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