Milk Blood Heat depicts the sultry lives of Floridians in intergenerational tales that contemplate human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in us all. A thirteen-year-old meditates on her sadness and the difference between herself and her white best friend when an unexpected tragedy occurs; a woman recovering from a miscarriage finds herself unable to let go of her daughter—whose body parts she sees throughout her daily life; a teenager resists her family's church and is accused of courting the devil. Each story delves into the ordinary worlds of young girls, women, and men who find themselves confronted by extraordinary moments of violent personal reckoning.
Mortality is the undercurrent in Dantiel W. Moniz’s electrifying debut story collection, Milk Blood Heat, but where there’s death there is the whir of life, too. A lot of collections consist of some duds, yet every single page in this book is a shimmering seashell that contains the sound of multiple oceans. Reading one of Moniz’s stories is like holding your breath underwater while letting the salt sting your fresh wounds. It’s exhilarating and shocking and even healing. The power in these stories rests in their veracity, vitality and vulnerability.
Although her stories are as emotionally gutting as the wake of a hurricane, Dantiel W. Moniz deserves more than the easy weather metaphors that come to mind. A resident of northern Florida, Moniz is an achingly insightful and soulful writer who deserves more than that. Her blistering range is evident in the 11 stories of her stunning debut collection, Milk Blood Heat, all of which are set in the Sunshine State ... Moniz possesses a calm ability to capture unspoken yet palpable awkwardness and disconnect ... Throughout the book, it’s these sustained beats, reverberating with gravity, that give the book texture and depth ... Actions mean more than words, but as a writer, Moniz knows that words are the connective tissue that give us the faith we need to carry on. How she illuminates that reasoning through direct and unwavering language is downright magical ... Words punctuate the wrath and mystery of a natural and spiritual world in this tremendous and sensual collection ... With worlds collapsed into single words and answers found in emptiness, Moniz empowers readers to find potential in lack. There’s always trouble brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, but Florida is a rich landscape for characters who dare to endure despite the ravages of body and mind in Milk Blood Heat.
Often the most powerful elements of fiction are the emotional truths mined from the most difficult experiences ... Milk Blood Heat is thoroughly tethered to this kind of emotional truth. Throughout 11 short stories—all set in Florida, all focusing on transformative experiences in the lives of women—Moniz weaves tales that are as profound as they are unnerving, as moving as they are surprising ... Each of the stories in this collection is anchored by Moniz’s gorgeous, precise prose ... Though they share certain geographic and thematic connections, the tales are quite diverse in their perspectives and casts. What unites them, and what keeps us turning the pages through scenes of tragedy and self-discovery, rebellion and reconciliation, trauma and agency, is the singular voice guiding each character. In nearly every paragraph, Moniz unfurls some new observation that nestles down in your brain and sits, steeping like tea leaves, until each story has formed a cohesive, powerful emotional experience. It’s a magical sensation that reveals astonishing talent ... a slim but mighty volume of short fiction, one that announces Moniz as a transfixing voice capable of limning often staggering emotional truths.