In Mixed Company Jenny Shank reveals moments of grace and connection between people of her hometown, Denver, through stories that contrast the city during its oil-bust era of economic troubles and court-ordered crosstown busing for racial desegregation with the burgeoning and gentrifying city of recent years.
In “Casa del Rey,” a cautious pregnant woman must contend with her out-of-control and intrusive neighbor. In “Hurts,” a girls’ basketball team at a majority Black Denver high school clashes with a white mountain team. In “La Sexycana,” a bottom-feeding journalist ventures to a dance club to confront the young Latina woman she mentored as a teenager who then cut off all contact with her. “Lightest Lights Against Darkest Darks” follows a white middle schooler bused to a majority Black school who falls under the spell of her magnetic and racially ambiguous art teacher. In “Signing for Linemen,” a graduate student in medieval literature takes a job as a summer tutor for a college football team and ends up learning more than she expected about athletes, American Sign Language, and herself. In “Local Honey,” middle-aged white parents bring their adopted Black teenage son to a Wu-Tang Clan concert in an attempt to bond with him.
Characters find their initial perceptions and ideas overturned in these stories laced with humor, heart, and grit. Jenny Shank forges fiction out of the sparks that fly when diverse people encounter one another.
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Published by Texas Review Press