Nine stories highlight the complexities of being Black in modern America, including a Black son who visits his white father during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and a Black Republican whose skin disease is turning him white.
... both hilarious and harrowing. In nine unique stories, Stuck employs tenderness, humor and refreshing spontaneity to transform the everyday multiplicities of the Black experience into the extraordinary, showcasing truths that are common knowledge for many Black Americans and uncomfortable revelations for others ... To write a story like this demands courage, but to pull it off requires skill — both of which are abundant in Stuck’s work ... Whether he’s writing about a white man persuading a young Black man to be his wife’s lover or a Black Republican with vitiligo who goes on a cruise for 'unseen souls', Stuck’s examination of Blackness panders to no one. His stories read as an authentic expression of his own viewpoint, which doesn’t perceive Black people as bodies whose only purpose is to orbit around racism, but as individuals who deserve to live for the sake of living ... Stuck brings nuance and empathy to each page, letting you know that he, like his characters, is traveling inward to find answers to questions of existence, rather than consulting some fictitious Encyclopedia Blacktannica ... This is a collection full of movement, of intelligent people traveling to new places or returning to old ones, leading to discoveries about themselves, about family and about the places they call home. Chris Stuck is a writer who has spent much time pondering the human condition, and we are the beneficiaries of his labor.
This is not a book that sets out to document all the ways in which being a person with brown skin somehow predisposes one to social violence. What Stuck does with his stories is create worlds where African Americans of various skin tones serve as protagonists in narratives that have little or nothing to do with their being racialized or othered, and more to do with their existence as complex, nuanced, three-dimensional people ... Stuck makes sure that the emotional dimensions of his characters are sincere, but the dry, straightforward way he presents the comedic passages positions him as a satirist with heart. He moves from drama to comedy to absurdity and back again with ease.
Chris Stuck knows what he’s doing. In Give My Love to the Savages, his debut short story collection, deliberation and intention shine through. These are stories centered around the anguishes of Black men, rendered here as both heroes and antiheroes. The stories are forthright with their unpacking of masculinity, grief, and identity. And at their best, they linger ceaselessly in the mind ... Where these explorations of masculinity fall slightly short are in the more absurdist stories of the collection ... Overall, however, Stuck presents us with a strong, focused debut collection. He creates nuanced characters, crafts varied perspectives on race and gender in America, and shows off his talent for economy of words and sharp dialogue throughout the book. As a young Indian-American woman, likely not of Chris Stuck’s intended audience, I enjoyed this collection on the outside looking in, and revel in this perspective. To me this collection helps debunk the idea that men are not privy to their own flaws and insecurities. Rather, when these are claimed and understood, art can result.