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Lot: Stories

by Bryan Washington

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4401556,735 (3.6)34
"In the city of Houston - a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America - the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He's working at his family's restaurant, weathering his brother's blows, resenting his older sister's absence. And discovering he likes boys. Around him, others live and thrive and die in Houston's myriad neighborhoods: a young woman whose affair detonates across an apartment complex, a ragtag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, hurricane survivors, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, a reluctant chupacabra. Bryan Washington's brilliant, viscerally drawn world vibrates with energy, wit, and the infinite longing of people searching for home. With soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot explores trust and love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms."--Inside dust jacket.… (more)
  1. 00
    That Time I Loved You: Stories by Carrianne Leung (rjuris)
    rjuris: Linked stories, city/suburban life, immigrant life, lgbtq
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» See also 34 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Did not finish. I listened to about 10 stories, including the title story, and found them to be very similar in content and tone. Not really my style. ( )
  gypsysmom | Dec 16, 2023 |
Some of the stories in here were fantastic. Overall, this was a very heavy read and the unique style took a bit to get used to. The book is a collection of short stories all told from a first person perspective, which I think helps you to connect more with each story and character as the narrator is typically unnamed, allowing you to put yourself in that persons shoes. ( )
  mancinibo | Nov 30, 2023 |
I read Memorial in one sitting and this one took a lot longer, but it was equally as good and maybe more meaningful / relatable to me. Bryan Washington is definitely my favorite contemporary author...for so many reasons.

The obvious...he does an amazing job of writing about place. It's so easy to feel immersed in the communities he writes about. And like many queer authors and authors who write about queer characters, found family is a big theme in the work. Peggy Park and Alief were my favorite stories in the collection because stories where strangers feel like family always hit me especially hard.

I read this shortly after reading the Death of Vivek Oji, another queer work and Lot:Stories felt refreshing in how it handled identity in that it barely did. Racial and sexual identities are just attributes to characters who are dealing with so much more. There is a matter-of-factness to how Washington handles it all. And I thought that was what I loved so much about it.

But, I was also re-reading The Fire Next Time as I read this and Baldwin has a line in it about being unseen. "Black people, mainly, look down or look up but do not look at each other, not at you, and white people, mainly, look away." And I think this idea is what I actually find relatable in Washington's work. He writes characters who aren't fully seen. No one's making a serious effort to pry them open and they don't know how or don't feel comfortable putting it all out there. The black queer characters specifically are not exposing their emotional interiors to anybody and they're quick to brush off any weak attempts by others to get in.

If you equate being seen to being loved, which Baldwin does in his essay, then this hold on privacy becomes an obstacle to love. So, every other short story, we follow Nicolás and his family and his journey toward figuring this shit out. And the hopeful ending to the collection really pushed this from like a 4.5 to a 5 star read for me.

Lastly, I have to shout out Bayou as my third favorite story because it's the only satisfying love story in the book, platonic guy friends who're full of forgiveness, hugging it out and fighting it out when necessary. Also CHUPACABRAS!

I borrowed this from the library and am excited to buy a physical copy so I can reread it whenever I want. ( )
  tanyaferrell | Dec 29, 2022 |
In the case of this book, Lot by Bryan Washington, I disliked some stories, disliked others even more, and found some so structurally complicated that I do not know whether I would have liked them or not.
The three-star rating is therefore too generous.
Like far too many contemporary writers, Mr. Washington lost sight of the main purpose of narrative: to communicate a message. He uses the same follies of other contemporaries: no quotation marks, no other means of telling a reader whether the character is thinking something or saying it, disjointed jumping from one scene to another, over-use of implication where clarity and directness were needed, and other felonies against meaning and communication.
What's with these contemporary writers, eschewing quotation marks, skipping needed details, describing rather than developing characters, and, apparently, working hard to impress readers by befuddling them? ( )
  PaulLoesch | Apr 2, 2022 |
Stunning. Ugly, smelly, sad, dirty, hopeless -- and rich, nuanced, and endlessly compelling. Washington writes about people I don't see written about, and who I mostly don't know, but somehow I know they are real and I sense that he got it right. These people hanging on for dear life on the edges of a thriving city, doing so in a subculture that rejects them and that they reject (or at least try to.) Jan runs to her "whiteboy," and he treats her well, gives her and her children security, but no matter how beige she goes she doesn't really fit. She fights so hard against her imposter syndrome, but it comes out in her attempted antipathy for everything and everyone she really loves. Javi, seeing he is going down, grasps the last possible foothold but ends up as he would have if he had stayed in the neighborhood. And Nicolas, he has so fully internalized everyone's loathing for his queer self that he cannot allow himself anything good no matter how hard he works. He cannot make himself leave a neighborhood where he is hated and which he hates. These central characters and those around them are all one stroke of bad luck away from homelessness (or in fact have already succumbed.) The streets of the hood provide precious little joy, but it is at least theirs, for the moment. With gentrification redrawing the boundaries even their meager shitty holdings are tenuous or gone.

My two favorite stories were Waugh and Shephard. Those stories broke my heart as I knew deep down with every sentence where we were heading, and I knew that the endings were inevitable. These people, whom we had gotten to know a bit, needed to destroy anything soft or lovely or humane that might be part of their existence. There seemed no choice. I was also awed by the final story which truly brought together the whole. It might have even ended with some hope, but the rest of the book had taught me not to trust that. ( )
  Narshkite | May 8, 2021 |
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"In the city of Houston - a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America - the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He's working at his family's restaurant, weathering his brother's blows, resenting his older sister's absence. And discovering he likes boys. Around him, others live and thrive and die in Houston's myriad neighborhoods: a young woman whose affair detonates across an apartment complex, a ragtag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, hurricane survivors, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, a reluctant chupacabra. Bryan Washington's brilliant, viscerally drawn world vibrates with energy, wit, and the infinite longing of people searching for home. With soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot explores trust and love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms."--Inside dust jacket.

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