A Lucky Man

“I’m ready to talk about it if you are,” a man says to his brother, “and if you’re ready to hear it.”

They may or may not ever talk about their past, about the secrets that drove them apart, but tonight they will step into the circle, bow their heads, and reach for one another in a grapple that is also a dance.

In A Lucky Man, Jamel Brinkley’s short-story collection now out in paperback, it’s easier for a man to inflict new wounds than to examine old ones.

My favorite story is the last one, “Clifton’s Place,” about a regular in a Bed-Stuy bar whose increasingly white customers reflect the gentrifying neighborhood. The bar is named by its owner, Sadie, after a man she hoped would return to her. Her mind has deteriorated as the neighborhood has changed, and Ellis could bring her solace or unspool her. PLEASE READ

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley, from Graywolf