I’m slowly but surely working my way through J. California Cooper’s work and enjoying each one. I’m marveled at her mastery to tell a story. Anyone out there who is attempting to write short stories should absolutely read her. All the ingredients in her stories are carefully chosen and used to depict well-rounded characters placed in common life situations. All of her stories have a moral. She isn’t preachy but she definitely tries to favor the positive side of life, even in the most burdensome situations.
A Piece of Mine is only 124 pages and can be read in one sitting. It contains twelve short stories, each as interesting from one to the other. They all revolve around the central theme from the catchy title, A Piece of Mine. Cooper was very good at giving her short story collections titles. All the titles are memorable puns chosen to accompany her perfect stories. Cooper’s simple yet direct writing style shines through these relevant stories. “Her stories, parables, and monologues take flight with truths about being alive, rhythm of folks at ease by the creek and the pool table, songs of love and remorse, syncopated, galloping, and beguilingly, genuine.” Ntosake Shange (back cover of Anchor Books edition) “Ms. Cooper is as down-home as Zora Neale Hurston, thank you, and blooming into as skilled a storyteller. Cooper’s characters are the folk heroes of Black culture…Tales of triumph that give you reason to keep reading.” Essence (back cover of Anchor Books edition)