When Jabari Asim rolled through St. Louis earlier this year, I didn't attend the book signing because I hadn't yet read the book. Now I really wish I had gone just to hear him read. Billed as a set of sixteen short stories, A Taste of Honey is so much more than that. It would be impossible to tell just one story and not wonder where it leads to or how the characters in that particular story affect characters in other stories.
There is the story of Rose, a young woman with the voice of an angel who lives to sing at church on Sundays, but spends the rest of the week pretending that her husband isn't as bad as he seems. There's the friendship between the Reverend Washington and the notorious gangster, Ananais Goode, that no one can figure out. The neighborhood is rounded out with Guts Tolliver, the hit man with a sense of humor; Ray Mortimer, a white cop patrolling the beat; and several others that make this an absolutely delightful read.
What did you like about this book?
The author is a master of language and uses it to set the backdrop for an absolutely fascinating take on what life in St. Louis must have been like for African Americans, especially a nine year old boy.
What did you dislike about this book?
At just a little over 200 pages, I could have used a bit more.
What could the author do to improve this book?
Nothing. If J. California Cooper were to decide to stop writing tomorrow, Jabari Asims could easily step into her role as the master of the short story.
Published March 2010
Theme: People Make the World Go Round by The Stylistics