Reviews for Look for me and I'll be gone : stories

Library Journal
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One story here is presented as a letter to singer Freddie Jackson, whose "You Are My Lady" plays on the radio as a man drives his son to prison, while another contemplates James Baldwin's Evidence of Things Not Seen, addressing the Atlanta murders from 1979 to 1981 and opening with a "why-did-the chicken-cross-the-road" riff that turns bleak. In fact, all the pieces in MacArthur Fellow Wideman's sixth collection push the boundaries of format as they explore family, loss, and America's ongoing racial divide. With a 60,000-copy first printing.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Short-story virtuoso Wideman follows the substantial You Made Me Love You: Selected Stories, 1981–2018 (2021) with a collection of new stories, another compelling contribution to his expansive oeuvre. The book opens with an observational tale, “Art of Story,” during which the narrator passes a young couple while walking down the street and is suddenly plunged into a deep reflection on the purpose and art of storytelling. Philosophical, ruminative, and alive with wordplay, this brief introduction sets the tone for the dynamic works that follow. Wideman touches on a wealth of timely and timeless topics, including identity, family relationships, culture, history, and social issues throughout these provocative stories. He creates an experimental, time-transcending journey into family histories (“Separation”), a tale richly layered with heartbreaking insights born of a loved one's incarceration (“Penn Station”), and an epic retelling of the story of one of the first African American missionaries (“Whose Teeth / Whose Story”). In each story, Wideman illustrates just how intricately the past is interwoven with the present, and there is plenty here to satisfy fans of captivating literary storytelling.

Publishers Weekly
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Two-time PEN/Faulkner winner Wideman’s bold latest (after You Made Me Love You) resonates with themes of racial identity, incarceration, poverty, and history. The stage is set with a quick one-two: the brief stream-of-consciousness opening story, “Art of Story,” and “Last Day,” in which the narrator ponders visiting his brother in prison, where his Blackness is felt in “hard, rigid, premeditated” overtones. A boy’s sadness is palpable in the gorgeous “Separation” as he stands by his beloved grandfather’s coffin while the narrator recounts the family’s heritage as a tender requiem. A letter written to R&B legend Freddie Jackson forms the soul of the epistolary “Arizona” as the narrator travels to prison with his son and his lawyers so his son can continue serving a life sentence for murder. A brother anxiously awaits a reunion, 44 years in the making, with his formerly incarcerated brother in “Penn Station.” Other gems feature Wideman’s piercing observations; in “BTM,” the narrator recounts seeing the three letters painted on the side of a building in New York City, then transformed to “BLM,” and reflects on the “hopelessness of railing against race.” Wideman’s memorable collection reinforces his reputation as a witty and provocative social observer and raconteur who challenges stereotypes and creatively reaffirms the realities of Black American life. Agent: Jin Auh, the Wylie Agency. (Nov.)