by Mary Slechta
Four Way Books
Paper: 978-1-954245-74-7 | eISBN: 978-1-954245-75-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3619.L424 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

In this electric collection, Mary Slechta brings magical realism and U.S. history to bear on the community of Mulberry Street— an African-American neighborhood with a disputed past. Is this enclave the result of white flight, a tenuous foothold for Southern transplants, or a sliver of the world that spun off during creation, once ruled by a god named Mr. Washington? Variously featuring the area’s residents, Mulberry Street Stories uphold the perseverance of hope despite intergenerational trauma and demonstrate the interconnection of human lives throughout time. Slechta's characters have seen it all, from the persistent mechanisms of systemic racism—forced migration, redlining, gentrification, and more—to the fantastical—children at danger of falling off a flat world; a vampire posing as Henry Box Brown; and a husband tasked with building a supernatural maze to trap the “somethin,” the faceless oppression that has long plagued his family and now threatens his wife. In one exemplary story, Slechta writes an ode to Toni Morrison, honoring her project to elevate the untold. The protagonist, Marjorie, a griot once charged with remembering things exactly as they happened but now suffering from Alzheimer’s, wanders away during a fugue. Drawn in by a taproom’s enchanting music, she begins orating to strangers, captivating the bartender and unknown patrons, one of whom rests his hand on her limb “like a penny on the arm of a record player”—the touch that keeps the disjointed tales together.

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