Clever, cruel, hilarious, heartbreaking, and at times simply ingenious, Thompson-Spires’s experimental collection poses a simple, yet obviously not-simple, question: what does it mean to be a black American in this day and age? ... Thompson-Spires’s metafictional satires, oriented around questions of blackness, join a particular tradition of African-American fiction, recalling the sardonic absurdism of Everett’s Erasure and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, among others ... Not all of Thompson-Spires’s stories are overtly satirical, and they become progressively more serious as the collection progresses, but a thread of outrageous, glaring self-awareness runs through the collection, granting even many of the more severe tales a tone of dark comedy ... Thompson-Spires, thankfully, depicts a wide range of people, not seeking either overwhelmingly positive or negative images of a race but capturing diversity — reality — in much of its multifarious beauty and terror ... The real heads, of course, as this brilliant collection of word paintings displays, can be on anybody’s bodies.
The stories can be heavy in mood but the prose cackles with puckering humor and a heart-centered engagement in the idiosyncratic pulses of consciousness and feeling ... The experience of reading this collection overlaps with the act of TV channel surfing: we arrive in the middle of, must get acclimated and settled in before an abrupt change to something new. The dialogue is bubbly and sardonic, full of sly twists and dramatic reveals ... Thompson-Spires’s collection brings to mind the work of Kathleen Collins, Danzy Senna, and Renee Simms. Their writing shares a tactile reverence for the emotional, spiritual, and psychic experiences of precocious black woman. They also contain uproarious one-liners, a fearless dive into the core of the moment (attended by an ironic sense of what has come before), and a tender patience given to the unruly desires of flawed, eccentric characters.
Every once in a while a book comes around that fills a need — that communicates ideas so effectively and humanely its social value leaps off the page. Heads is such a book ... The author thoughtfully reveals contemporary racial dynamics by letting authenticity lead the way. She poses dilemmas, and we observe them play out as if she’s plucked scenes directly from our day-to-day ... Writing in versatile prose and with a penchant for naturalistic dialogue, the author calls to mind writers like Junot Díaz and Tayari Jones in the way she weaves timeless human conflict into a quietly political tapestry. Well-observed as they are, some of these entries could use a little more meat on the bones.