Read This Book

Read This Book (07/21/2021)

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

I have recently become interested in learning about the craft of writing. I think this interest originated after reading On Writing by Stephen King, where he approaches his story of writing very methodically. I am no one to say whether his methods are the best in his field, but having read the majority of his works, I can confirm they are not the worst.

I then picked up George Saunders’ A Swim in the Pond, and what a revelation. In the essay collection, Saunders breaks down 8 stories from 4 Russian authors and talks about what they do, how they do it, and how these stories have stood the test of time. After reading his breakdown of the first story itself, I approached the short stories on my bookshelf wistfully, ready to put into practice what I had just learned. My pick is the winner from this expedition.

cover image of Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz

What do you think when you hear the phrase, ‘Milk, Blood, Heat?’ To me, it represents a newborn-ness, a kind of raw vulnerability that is inherently part of being human. That is the kind of rawness this story collection captures.

Each of the stories is focused on a single point in time for each of the characters. At the end of each story there is not much resolution, but rather a sense of transformation of the characters, of the reader.

Moniz’s stories range from adolescence to adulthood, capturing all that one loses along the way. We have a woman trying to come to terms with having a baby, and a woman coming to terms with losing one. We have the budding misunderstandings between two friends and that between family members. In a mere 208 pages, there is little that is left unexplored.

If you always find yourself on the hesitant side of trying out short stories, then this might be the collection for you. I stepped away a changed person after reading this book and it almost filled the hole in my heart left behind by The Secrets Lives of Church Ladies.

Plus, the audio is exceptional. I do want to take a moment add some trigger warnings for miscarriage, suicide on page, and some mentions of abuse (off page).

Come tell me what you thought of this read if you do pick it up on Twitter @JavedNusrah.

Happy Reading!