Long winded, unemployed, and timid, on the first date Brendan Bloom is already in love. Comfortably arched over his body, Ryan contemplates murder. Cold, necklace gleaming against the pale tint of her collarbone, the passenger could have mercy. Not a little black book, but a faded love letter out from under the sheets. Some romances ignite on sight, others flare at the base of waterless tubs soaked in agitation. Rooted in the South, this collection of short stories delivers five electric confessions of love, sexuality, and identity across time.
Note: I was provided a copy of this book by the author to review.
Down on the Other Street is a collection of short stories that are about love, relationships, sexuality, and discovering who you are. Focusing on the South and across many different time periods, these stories invite you into the intimate lives and emotions of various people, making you realise that people can be a lot more complicated than they appear.
The stories Cie has created are touching, emotional, and unique. They are stories of the passion of love and sexual experience, and the yearning and exhilaration you can experience as a result. The characters are detailed, emotional, in-depth, and trying to discover themselves. They do this through the relationships they have with other people and in each of their stories we see the struggles, social issues, and freedoms that these relationships have on them.
Despite the fact that there are many connecting themes between these stories, no two are truly alike; some of them are so different that it isn’t just the time period that separates them. Two of my favourite stories from the collection are Intellectuals Are Fools and The Blue Bullet, both being excellent stories that capture not only a powerful relationship, but also stories of interest, unanswered questions and filled with the unexpected.
What needs to be mentioned is that while there is a strong focus on love and sexuality, it is in no way explicit, vulgar, or even in there unnecessarily. As someone who has a slight aversion towards explicit sex scenes and over the top romance I found that how Cie has controlled and developed not just the relationships, but also the intimacy and sexual nature, was really well done. There was meaning and emotion brought out through the detail and done so tastefully to the characters and who they are as people without requiring anything to be over the top or disrespectful.
Down on the Other Street will not only open your eyes to the complexities that human emotions are capable of, but also demonstrate that the journey towards discovering your own identity can take many different paths and no two will ever be exactly the same. Cie’s stories follow these many different paths and provide each character with a voice, one that draws in the reader to the emotion and complexities of the surrounding world as well as the character within it and they do so with style and compassion.