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Salsa Nocturna: Stories

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Salsa Nocturna: Stories (2012) Daniel José Older

This is a collection of stories set in the same world as the Bone Street Rumba series, and although some of the stories were about Carlos, there are other stories as well.

“Tenderfoot”
“Salsa Nocturna”
“Skin Like Porcelain Death”
“The Collector”
“Graveyard Waltz”
“Protected Entity”
“Magdalena”
“Red Feather & Bone”
“The Passing”
“Tall Walkin’ Death”
“Love is a Fucking River”
“Forgive Me My Tangents”
“Phantom Overload”

“Tenderfoot”

“The Hindus believe that elephants used to be able to fly,” Victor informs me. “Until one of them fell out of tree onto a great meditating sage and he cursed away their wings.”

“Whoopee,” Jenny says. “I know how to Google too.”

Checking on a possible link to a phantom pachyderm.” I feel stupid saying that, but it sounds better than ‘ghost elephant.’

“Salsa Nocturna”

If I walk onto a playground, and I swear to you I’m never the instigator, it’s like some memo goes out: Drop whatever game you’re playing and come chase the fat guy. Family events and holidays? Forget it. I don’t really mind because I hate small talk, and if there’s one thing about kids, they give it to you straight: “Tío Gordo, why you so big?”

And I get real serious looking. “Because I eat so many children,” I say.

Then they run off screaming and, usually, I give chase until I start wheezing.

I am not delicate. But if you were to watch me in slow-mo, you would then understand that, really, I am a panther. A slow, overweight panther, perhaps, but still, there is a fluidity to me – a certain poise.

“Skin Like Porcelain Death”

You never know what you’re gonna get when you call in the Council of the Dead. They might come in all heavy, spirit blades a-rattling or they might not come at all. Usually it’s whatever would be least helpful in the given situation.

“Graveyard Waltz”

it never sounded right – those tiny headphones and even though it’s supposed to be higher caliber, you can imagine what becoming so many zeros and ones does to a song.

“Protected Entity”

This part of Harlem’s mostly white now. Homeless black guys wander aimlessly, pretending they didn’t get the memo to clear the fuck out.

“I have a great respect for African and African-American culture. I teach Pan-African history at Columbia. I’ve written several books on Nigerian culture and the Caribbean Diaspora. I’ve spent three of the past seven years doing field-work on one end of the continent or the other. I wasn’t about to move into some hood, but I feel comfortable around black people. So here I am. I asked permission from the block council before buying the place, and frankly they were quite impressed with my extensive knowledge of pre-Colombian civilizations.”

“Let’s kill him,” Riley says in my ear.

“Magdalena”

He says every soul is like a tiny shard of glass that reflects God. He says when you’re dead, you’re just a soul, and the reflection is even stronger, not muddled by all that flesh and blood and living people shit.

“The Collector”

He says every soul is like a tiny shard of glass that reflects God. He says when you’re dead, you’re just a soul, and the reflection is even stronger, not muddled by all that flesh and blood and living people shit.

“Red Feather & Bone”

“Get the fuck out of the way you scrawny hipsters!” Riley screams out the window. “Tell ‘em, Gordo, I don’t think they heard me.”

“¡Comiendo mierda y gastando zapatos!” Gordo yells.

Riley eyes him suspiciously. “Did you say what I said?”

“Basically,” Gordo chuckles.

It’s still the wrong century for two brown men to be driving a pickup truck with mysteriously tarped cargo towards lower Manhattan.

“The Passing”

‘Simpático’ is the best word for him. It means ‘nice’ in English, but nice is such a pathetic word. Nice. It just lives and dies in one breath. Simpático is a whole story unto itself. It has panache.

“Tall Walkin’ Death”

The man just vomits phrases with total disregard for their meaning.

“‘Bout time some of our people be gun-totin’ psycho nerds too.” Krys looks like she’s somewhere between flattered and irritated.

“Listen,” I say, “I’m glad you’re all happy now that we have a fully armed teenager on our side, but we got some shit to figure out.

“Love is a Fucking River”

She just bawled in my arms for what seemed like hours and that little frail body of hers kept shuddering and heaving and I thought she might just crumble like a little crispy leaf at any second, but she seemed so strong to me in that very moment, too, because what man, for all our strength and awesomeness, can really be that vulnerable? You know? What man can really be strong enough to fall apart?

“Forgive Me My Tangents”

A child’s excitement is its own force of nature.

(A) scar isn’t about the injury, it’s about the healing.

“Phantom Overload”

Nothing marginalizes marginalized people like a dead white guy talking sympathetically.

Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Crossed Genres Publications

Categories: 8/10, Anthology, Fantasy, Female, Hispanic, Supernatural, Young Adult     Comments (0)    



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