Short Stories 366:65 — “Off-Broadway: 1971,” by Jewelle Gomez

coverI know it’s probably cheating to go through The Gilda Stories as short fictions (in my defence, my introduction to Gilda was through a Gilda short story in New Orleans at Saints & Sinners Literary Festival), but the leaps through time and the interconnectedness of the story-chapters is so damn appealing and whatever, my short story project, my rules. I’m also including novellas and novelettes, so whatever.

“Off-Broadway: 1971” hits a major turning point in the ongoing tales of Gilda: though once or twice before she’s encountered people she considered changing into a vampire like herself, previously she’s realized those people weren’t quite right for the life. But this time? This time she’s not just unsure, she’s truly afraid of making a mistake. And given her history (and events of earlier stories) that’s not surprising.

70’s New York is beautifully rendered in this story, and more than that, the politics and culture of the time are almost a character in and of themselves (this is often the case in The Gilda Stories, frankly, and one of the reasons I freaking adore Gomez as an author). And as Gilda faces down the reasons for her uncertainty and decides whether or not she will bring someone over, the world around them both continues the way it always does. The juxtaposition there is so gently drawn, and I love it. Gilda knows time continues, she has cared for and lost so many people, and yet she is connected to life, and that continues to be her strength.

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