Blog Tour: The Black and White Museum, Ferdinand Dennis

Book Review: The Black and White Museum, Ferdinand Dennis

 

The Black and White Museum

Story Collection: The Black and White Museum, Ferdinand Dennis

Blog Tour December 10, 2021

 

The Black and White Museum is a collection of short stories by Ferdinand Davis, mostly exploring the life of Jamaican immigrants living in London. Sometimes funny, sometimes acerbic, often unexpected, these stories give us a window into a culture that is often misunderstood and unwelcomed by the majority population.

 

Few of the stories explore open racism or class distinctions directly. Some of the figures are working class, some middle class. A few are very comfortable, if not rich. There are instances of more subtle racism at work. A glance, a person crossing the street, but most of the incidents are what we now call “microaggressions.” They are problematic and hurtful, but these characters have other issues on their minds.

 

More than one is mentally ill, or at least is perceived to be that way. A man buys an electric stove to take home to his family, inviting people to join them for a Christmas celebration. His perception of reality, though, is compromised. A woman believes herself to be perfectly normal and sane until the police knock on her door. We are not certain whether she is right or whether those sending her to the hospital are right. A man falls for a lovely woman who disappears, as if she were written out of his story.

 

Many of the stories feature unrequited or doomed love. One man falls for his friend’s girlfriend and must move away from them to maintain his equilibrium. A woman starts seeing a man who is living with another woman–a woman she did not know about. A lady in a laundromat is enchanted by a customer, who awakens a part of her she had forgotten about. Even parent-child relationships are tricky and sometimes unfulfilling in these stories.

 

What all of these stories have in common is their heart. Even the characters who do not have a firm grip on reality see a world that makes sense through their own eyes. Dennis writes with compassion and affection for even the most flawed people in these stories. Most of them almost feel unfinished in the best possible way. The story ends leaving you wanting more. “What happens next?” “Where do they go from here?” “Will they find love?” We begin a journey with characters who only give us a chapter of their lives. Dennis may not finish their lives, but his writing is so rich that you feel the story begins before the first word and ends long after the final period.

 

When short stories are done well, they carry the seed of a larger work. Perhaps more of these characters’ stories will be told in future works. Perhaps not. They are all filled with enough detail and drama that the novels keep writing themselves in my mind. I hated to let them go. These may be people living as foreigners in a foreign country, cultures and continents away from my home. Through the power of these stories, they are now neighbors in the streets of my mind.

 

Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for our copy of The Black and White Museum, given solely in exchange for our review. The opinions here are those of Scintilla. For other perspectives on this book, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

 

The Black and White Museum

Book Review: The Black and White Museum, Ferdinand Dennis

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