Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Gangsters

by Colson Whitehead

This is a great short story set in Sag Harbor in the summer of '85, where a group of teenage boys - the sons of upper middle-class black families from New York - have to fill weekdays free of parental supervision. They have a habit of making bad choices, usually taking place on a Thursday, the day before their parents return from the city.

The story is narrated by Benji, the almost-twin of his slightly younger brother Reggie. The entire group of friends is introduced, and each is a fully developed character in his own right. In their search for new entertainment, the group discovers BB guns, and set out to have themselves a typical Thursday evening.

Whitehead does a terrific job of setting up his upcoming novel, Sag Harbor, in this story. I enjoyed The Intuitionist, and loved John Henry Days, and am looking forward to this new book. I like how he explains the differences for young black men between 1985, an era of innocence, and 1992, which is where I suspect the novel will take us.

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