This Is Not Miami delivers a series of devastating stories—spiraling from real events—that bleed together reportage and the author's rich and rigorous imagination. These narrative nonfiction pieces probe deeply into the motivations of murderers and misfits, into their desires and circumstances, forcing us to understand them, despite our wish to simply label them monsters.
Prose as cool as the events were grotesque ... Hurricane Season is constructed of run-on stories, thick with rumor, about the witch at its center ... Presented as 'narrative nonfiction' but formally loose, it’s deliberately disorienting. Melchor’s pushing the reader to reassess the premises around which we make judgments about people, countries or entire regions ... Sometimes, the reshaping is musical ... Melchor’s stories intensify ... Melchor’s talent for exposing storytelling tropes is clearest in the collection’s strongest piece, Queen, Slave, Woman, which determinedly scours off the simplistic tropes and assumptions that get attached to true-crime stories ... Melchor isn’t claiming to know the whole story. But what she means to say is that we should think twice before we do as well.
No horrific detail is made up. However, her introduction adds, 'the heart of these texts is not the incidents themselves, but the impact they had on their witnesses.' This qualification is prudent, first, because in most cases the author is not a witness but a careful, patient auditor of witnesses, and second, because some incidents are supernatural ... In addition to bravely presenting dark truths, Melchor writes from a good heart. I admire her compassionate respect for people ... One negative thing must be said. The book’s first third is cliché-blighted ... These faults do weaken the book’s otherwise powerful effects.
Melchor writes about events she mostly didn’t witness, drawing on interviews, news stories and hearsay ... The essays shed light both on the author’s source material and her stylistic evolution ... Melchor introduces a colourful cast of dockworkers and petty criminals.