In the city of Houston - a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America - the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He's working at his family's restaurant, weathering his brother's blows, resenting his older sister's absence. And discovering he likes boys.
Bryan Washington’s Lot is not only a stellar debut but also an essential blueprint to understanding America’s next best city ... Covering the breadth of Houston’s infamous sprawl—chapters take their names from the city’s streets and neighborhoods—Lot manages to squeeze a whole world of cultural, political, and social issues into the macro-microcosm that is the place nicknamed Space City: racism, poverty, violence, drugs, gentrification, AIDS, the War On Terror, and anti-immigrant conservatism ... Washington writes with as much warmth and humor as he does grit. Like the tiny shards of reflective, mirror ball-like material that flecks a pavement’s surface, Lot’s stories glow amid their own inherent darkness ... Lot is not only the story of Houston, it is also your story, my story, our story. A sorrowful tale, a hopeful story, a beautiful gift—the song of America today.
Washington’s subtle, dynamic and flexible stories play out across [Houston's] sprawling and multiethnic neighborhoods. His characters move through streets named so often — Richmond and Waugh, Rusk and Fairview — that they come to have talismanic power, like the street names in Springsteen songs ... Washington cracks open a vibrant, polyglot side of Houston about which few outsiders are aware. On one level, this landscape is bleak ... But there is a fair amount of joy in Washington’s stories, too ... A few of these stories are barely more than vignettes. One or two don’t quite coalesce. This is on a certain level a modest book, one that isn’t going to drive other young short story writers into the shadows. But the promise Washington displays is real and large.