Mingus Fingers is one of those rare stories that gets everything right. What it feels like to be a black man in 1940s San Francisco, to box, to play jazz, to understand what it takes to be the best at either but know you’ll never be able to pull it off. The narrator’s voice is matter-of-fact but also soars, so that you’re immersed in the sweat of the ring, the smoke of the jazz club, the indescribable joy of when the music really swings.
You don’t have to know Mingus’s music to appreciate what the authors have pulled off, but if you do, the story will resonate that much more deeply for you. And really, you could do worse than listening to some Mingus.
It’s because of stories like this that it’s so important for us to support our small presses. Sure, Mingus Fingers might have appeared in some anthology or collection, but it wouldn’t be the perfect little package that this is.
I loved it so much that a few weeks after reading it I went back and read it again. I think I might have enjoyed it even more the second time.
Michaeal Swanwick on his FLOGGING BABEL blog feels much the same.
Take my word for it, it’s tough to donkey up the knowledge to convincingly portray a jazz musician or a boxer. Doing both in one story? It’s a recipe for disaster.
Yet Mingus Fingers is not a disaster. Rather, it’s a graceful and touching portrayal of a man with the odds loaded against him who gives his all for a child who has a shot at something more than he ever had.
This is a slim $8.00 single-story paperback from Fairwood Press. It’s nicely made, too.
Ryan: The Treasury of the Fantastic is an amazing collection of 44 poems, short stories and novellas, all fantasy related, all published before 1923. The anthology editors, David Sandner and Jacob Weisman, should be congratulated for managing to collect the rights to so many amazing stories. At the start of the book they openly provide the criteria they used for putting together this anthology. Unfortunately their criteria mean we miss out on a few great authors who were producing their best work right around the cut-off data, authors like Lovecraft and Howard, but that barely takes away from the excellent 44 stories that made the cut and are celebrated in this anthology.
Our rating: 9.5/10 (read the review) |