More reviews and comments are in and this writer sat flabbergasted on her bed this morning, just after the dawn run to the bus stop, reading and rereading some of these comments. I gulped down my Goldilocks-warm porridge as the rain PELTed outside. Have a squizz:
The stories are miniature marvels in the manifestation of orientalizing of the African not just by Europeans and Americans but by returned citizens. The stories show us how hard it is to return home unchanged. These stories are not about ignorant hateful prejudice. McNamara is too knowing and intelligent for that. They are about the very great difficulties of escaping from our deep conditioning, our unseen frames of reference. The stories are also fun to read. Lots of interesting things happen, there is some sex, women eyeballing each other, and a strong sense of humor and fun. Mel U, prolific reviewer on Rereading Lives Blog
I've read half a dozen stories in random order, and can't get 'Nathalie' out of my mind. Mark Reynolds, Fiction Editor, Bookanista.
(I'm) currently three stories in, all three of which have been corkers. Dan Powell, writer and blogger
The body comes to liquid life in your prose. You write richly, and beautifully and convincingly from many characters' perspectives and points of view. Many of your stories explore culture, race, sexuality and gender. One reason I think your narratives are so convincing is your interesting use of syntax, really adds fabric to the characterisation.. Rachel Fenton, Snow Like Thought Blog
The stories are generally seen through the eyes of frisky thirty-somethings - men with women's names, women with men's - coming together and parting, forming provisional partnerships in temporary residences, dipping into and out of foreign cultures, not trapped anywhere but also not belonging, their identities up for grabs and sometimes - painfully - grabbed. They are afloat if not adrift in a sea bobbing with the flotsam and jetsam of culture. Where the culture is European, it is a sort of froth, energy without depth, sheen without ballast; where it is African it appears to be menacingly beckoning and harking back, shaping figures the people in the stories wanted to leave behind.
"All art gives a quality to silence, meaningful or empty, but it's in the silence (when the art takes its leave, and you are left alone) that it does its work." So said Karen Blixen, a Dane out of Africa, a woman who wrote with a man's name, a modernist and feminist (before these became fashionable), a forerunner, let's say, of the world of these stories. When good short stories - like McNamara's - depart, they leave behind them a silence that is a little troubled by a nagging inner noise that needs to be soothed and calmed, but - thankfully - can't be stilled without some useful pondering.