Friday, March 20, 2020

MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This debut novel follows Korede, a nurse who, after helping her sister Ayoola dispose of her third dead body, is now beginning to discover that Ayoola might be a serial killer. I love how efficient the writing here proved to be: the short, clipped chapters, the bare, no-nonsense prose that gets right down to business with character development, and the nimble and direct first-person narration all led to a speedy, effective read. Not only is it an entertaining little thriller but it also develops both lead characters in effective ways and is also an astute look at this particular sibling relationship. The one big thing I think is lacking is a full arc for Korede. In the end, I wish that there was more of a complete journey for her. The ending felt a bit meager and anti-climactic in regards to character. But I enjoyed the writing so much that I'm excited to see what Braithwaite does next.


Monday, March 2, 2020


Many of these aren't stories in the traditional sense. They are mere portraits, moody snapshots, fragments of broken lives, each one sharp and dirty with rust. They're short, bold, uncompromising pieces that pummel you in various ways, leaving you stunned. Basically, the kind of short fiction that I adore. Even though they're unconventional, they are all still highly engaging and satisfying. This is a collection of some of the most original stories I've read in a while.

I was extremely impressed by the creative talent shown here, whether it's the chronicling of a "Twenty Dollar Bill" as it travels a grimy and depressing journey, the look at fight clubs as a new form of criminal justice in "Victimized," a bizarrely sad take on the author's fate in "Stephen King Ate My Brain," after an encounter with the titular author, a dark, uncomfortable "Interview" for a babysitting job, or a twisted take on the choose-your-own-adventure story in "Splintered."
Every time she looked at me, she saw him, our son, that generous boy, and it was another gut punch bending her over, another parting of her flesh, and I was one of the thousand, and my gift to her now was my echo.
If you like work that focuses on building atmosphere and tone, work that sinks under your skin and lingers way past reading, then buy this and dive in. I can't wait to read more from Richard Thomas. I've been reading many great short story collections in recent years, with very clever and fascinating writing. But I have to say that Thomas's work is definitely some of the most exciting and stands out in the crowd.