REVIEW: “Candied Sweets, Cornbread, and Black-Eyed Peas” by Malon Edwards

Review of Malon Edwards, “Candied Sweets, Cornbread, and Black-Eyed Peas”, in Aidan Doyle, Rachael K. Jones, and E. Catherine Tobler, Sword and Sonnet (Ate Bit Bear, 2018) — 63-76. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

“Candied Sweets, Cornbread, and Black-Eyed Peas” is the third story in Edwards’ “Half Dark” series, set in an alternate-universe Chicago where there is a strong Haitian (sub?)community and featuring the same heroine, but can be read independently of the first two (as I did; though afterwards I read the SFFRev review of the second story).

This story forced me to work at reading it, to savor the sound of the syllables and not just their meaning. It was rewarding work, for the most part, but there were a few things that caused me to stumble. Three pages from the end of the story — at a point where I was still waiting to find out who the poet of the story is — the point of view shifts from 1st person into addressing an unnamed “you”. Shortly after that, the unnamed “you” is lost, but there is a shift in tenses, so that paragraphs alternate between present and past tense. It was not clear to me why either of these choices were made, and the abrupt shifts without any clear reason for them unfortunately detracted from my enjoyment. And I never did find out who the battle poet was.

It was a good story, reading it made me want to read the others in the series, but I am not sure I see how this particular one fits into this particular anthology/theme.

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