Whose Song?: And Other Stories

Whose Song?: And Other Stories

by Thomas Glave

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780872866423
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publication date: 09/30/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 264
File size: 833 KB

About the Author

Thomas Glave was born in the Bronx and grew up there and in Kingston, Jamaica. His work has earned many honors, including an O. Henry Prize and a Fulbright fellowship to Jamaica. His fiction and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals and he is the editor of two anthologies of gay and lesbian writing.

Read an Excerpt

The words to every song on earth are buried deep somewhere. Songs that must be sung, that must never be sung. That must be released from deep within the chest yet pulled back and held. Plaintive and low, they rail; buried forever beneath the passing flesh, alone and cold, they scream. The singer must clutch them to the heart, where they are sanctified, nurtured, healed. Songs which finally must be released yet recalled, in that place where no one except the singer ever comes, in one hand caressing the keys of life wounded, ravaged, in the other those of the precious skin and life revealed. The three of them and Cassandra know the words. Lying beneath them now and blind, she knows the words. Tasting turpentine and fire, she knows the words. -- Hell no, yo, that bitch ain't dead.-- A voice. -- Fucked up, yo. The rag's in her mouth, how we gone get some mouth action now?-- -- Aw, man, fuck that shit.-- Who says that? -- My turn. My turn.-- They know the words.

Night. Hell, no, broods the dim, that bitch ain't dead. Hasn't uttered half a sound since they began; hasn't opened her eyes to let the night look in again; hasn't breathed to the soft beating of the nightbird's wing. The turpentine rag in place. Cassandra, Cassandra. The rag, in place. Cassandra. Is she feeling something now? Cassandra. Will they do anything more to her now? Cassandra, will they leave you there? Focusing on flies, not meeting each other's eyes, will they leave you there? Running back from the burning forests behind their own eyes, the crackling and the shame? Will they leave you there? -- Push that bitch out on the ground, the one they call Dee says. -- Over there, by them cars and shit.-- Rusty cars, a dumping ground. So, Cassandra. Yes. They'll leave you there. Were they afraid? Happy? Who can tell? Three dark boys, three men, driving away in a battered car. Three boy-men, unseen, flesh, minds, heart. Flame. In their car. O my God, three rapists, the pretty lady in her Volvo thinks, locking her doors at the traffic light. In their car. Blood on the backseat, cum stains, even hair. Who can tell? It's time to get open now. Time to numb the fear. -- Get out the whiff, yo.-- 40s and a blunt. -- That bitch got what she deserved.-- Those words, whiffs up, retreat, she deserved it, deserved it -- and they are gone. Mirrored images in shattered glass, desire and longing, chill throbbing, and they are gone. The circles cleaving their necks. Flesh, blood and flame. A whiff and a 40. -- We fucked that bitch good, G.-- Night. Nightnight. Hush dark silence. Fade. They are gone. Cassandra. What nightbirds are searching and diving for you now? What plundered forests are waiting for you now? The girl-trees are waiting for you, and so is she. Tanya. The girl-trees. Mama. How can they know? Their eyes are waiting, searching, and will soon be gray. The rats are waiting. They are gray. Cassandra, Cassandra. When the red lights come flashing on you, will they know? Fifteen, ripped open. Will they know? Lightskinned bitch nigger ho, went that song. Will they know? Girl-trees in a burning forest...they will know. And the night....
Where is she, they're wondering, why hasn't she come home? They can't know what the rats and the car-carcasses know. Cassandra? they are calling. Why don't you answer when night-voices call you home?

Listen now to the many night voices calling, calling soft, Cassandra. Come. Carrying. Up. Cassandra. Come. Out and up. What remains is what remains. Out and up. They will carry her. A feeling of hands and light. Then the red lights will come. Up and up. But will she see? Will she hear? Will she know?

The girl-trees are screaming. That is their song.

It will not appear on tomorrow's morning news.

But then -- come now, ask yourself -- whose song, finally, shall this be? Of four dark girls, or four hundred, on their way to lasting fire in Sunday school? Of a broken-backed woman, legs bent? Her tune? Of a pair of hands, stitching for -- (but they'll never grow). Of four brothers rapping, chugging? -- a slapbeat in the chorus? Doing time? Something they should know?

A song of grieving ships, bodies, torch-lit roads?

(-- But then now O yes remember, remember well that time, face, place or thing: how those ten thousand million billion other ashes eyelids arms uncountable dark ceaseless burnt and even faces once fluttered, fluttered forever, in someone's dream unending, dream of no escape, beneath a blackblueblack sea: fluttered, flutter still and descend, now faces ashes eyelids dark reflection and skin forever flame: descend, descend over laughing crowds.)

A song of red earth roads. Women crying and men. Red hands, gray mouths, and the circle's clutch. A song, a song. Of sorrowing suns. Of destruction, self-destruction, when eyes lay low. A song --

But whose song is it? Is it yours? Or mine?


Or theirs... -- ?

-- But a song. A heedless, feckless tune. Here, where the nighttime knows. And, well --

Yes, well --

-- So, Cassandra. Now, Cassandra.

Sing it.

Table of Contents

—And Love Them?93
Their Story119
The Final Inning151
A Real Place183
The Pit195
Whose Song?233

What People are Saying About This

Carole Maso

A fiercely imagined debut — intensely lyric, driven by the desire, in the face of everything, for truth, justice, beauty.

David Bergman

I read through hundreds of manuscripts each year by many of the most talented writers in America. Thomas Glave’s work immediately struck me by its linguistic vision as well as the uniqueness of its subject matter. Glave has a Faulknerian temperament that expresses itself both in style, subject matter and method. He is one of the most exciting writers it has been my privilege to read and include in these volumes. (David Bergman, editor Men on Men: Best New Gay Fiction)

Clarence Major

What a writer! What a book! Glave is a brilliant writer of startlingly fresh prose, a writer who keeps you in a constant presence of experience, as if you were moving around in a clear dream. His stories are intricate tapestries of life rendered through a triumphant act of the imagination.

Wilson Harris

Remarkable stories by a gifted writer who explores, in prose and rhythms of imaginative moment, the stresses, the split-minds, the implicit grandeurs, the subtleties, the terrors, of emotional desire and obsession: one is drawn compulsively into character and event.

David Lynn

His story snapped my head back. I knew within a few sentences that here was the real thing. The appearance of Whose Song? will, I have no doubt, signal the next stage in the development of his reputation one of truly national significance. ( David Lynn, editor Kenyon Review)

Nadine Gordimer

Thomas Glave has the strong talent and courage to take up the right to enter the inner selves of both black and white characters in his stories. This is a creative claim beyond ‘authenticity’ determined by skin color. He also has that essential writer's ear for the way different people speak within their cultures, and what their idiom gives away of their inhibitions and affirmations.

Gloria Naylor

In this collection of short stories Thomas Glave walks the path of such greats in American literature as Richard Wright and James Baldwin while forging new ground of his own. His voice is strong and his technique dazzling as he cuts to the bone of what it means to be black in America, white in America, gay in America, and human in the world at large. These stories span the globe of the human experience and the human heart. They are brutal in some places, tender in others, but always honestly told. A true talent of the 21st century.

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Whose Song?: And Other Stories 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to Thomas Glave's work at a poetry reading which he read at. I was intrigued, and decided to read his book. Overall, it's very interesting, a good exploration of relationships and self-identity. Some of the stories seemed to drag out (perhaps as the intended effect) because of Glave's dense writing style, however, others hold the reader rapt with attention, sometimes distaste or even disgust. Personal favorites include 'The Pit,' '--And Love Them?' and 'Commitment.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book caught me totally by surprise. It's really powerful, it hits you in the gut. I really love books that go inside people's heads and minds and look at how people really are. This book does that. What's really amazing about this entire book is the way Thomas Glave writes so beautifully about such ugly, horrifying things. He makes you want to read even when you don't want to read anymore. I felt like somebody was kissing me while they were punching me in the stomach. And I've never read a book that had such beautiful depictions of the pain men and women experience when they don't understand each other. I really hope that he writes another book soon. I totally recommend this book, especially if you're into great writing, great literature that makes you think. Congrats, Thomas Glave. Ferocious!