Published by Penguin on March 17, 2020
Genres: African American & Black, Fiction, General, Boys & Men, Coming of Age, LGBTQ, Short Stories
Bryan Washington’s short story collection, Lot, focuses on queer characters living in Houston. Minor characters in other stories become the focus of others, creating connections across the collection. One bi-racial male, Nicolás, is the focus of many of the stories. He struggles with coming to terms with his sexuality, his absent father, his homophobic brother, and helping his mom keep her restaurant afloat. I was excited to read this collection after enjoying Washington’s novel Memorial, which I also recommend.
My favorite story was Bayou, where two friends find what they believe to be a Chupacabra. The potential Chupacabra added whimsey to the story that ended up focusing on a close male friendship. This being the only story with fantasy elements (and even a reference to Dune), of course it became my favorite. Another standout was Waugh, where a group of male sex workers sharing a home deal with their house father contracting HIV. This story reminded me of the excellent tv show Pose because of its focus on found families. Many members of the LGBT community, less fortunate than myself, are rejected by their families because of their queer identity. Thus, they find and create their own families. Themes present in these stories include families (biological and found), friendship, intersectionality, and the concept of home. Bryan Washington is a Houston native, and it shows in his writing. The city of Houston can be considered a main character that ties this collection together. This is an honest, depiction of Houston where many of the characters are struggling to make ends meet, especially after the damage of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. I have never visited Houston, but I feel like I have a sense of the city after reading Lot.
I would recommend this short story collection to anyone. If you are more in the mood for a longer story format, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of his novel Memorial. I will definitely be reading anything Bryan Washington writes in the future.