Mattaponi Queen has received some very nice reviews from Kirkus and Booklist (though Booklist did refer to the middle peninsula as “that godforsaken place”). I haven’t decided how to integrate this content into the blog yet, but I did want to mention the review I received from NewPages, a guide to independent publishers, independent bookstores, and literary magazines (check out their blog for useful and interesting information about grants, contests, and literary goings-on). I think Keith Meatto’s review is very thoughtful and a good introduction for people who aren’t familiar with the stories. Here’s a sample:
Set near and on the Mattaponi Indian Reservation in Virginia, the twelve tales mull the many manifestations of loneliness and the ache for companionship.
Nearly every story in Mattaponi Queen explores the effects of estrangement. Husbands and wives, parents and children stumble through their daily routines, haunted by people separated from them by distance, divorce, or death. Many characters have jobs – such as nurse, teacher and coach – that require them to care for others. Meanwhile, they undermine their own chances at happiness, whether it’s through drugs and alcohol or self-imposed seclusion.
The book begins slowly, with stories that are nearly vignettes. Gradually, a narrative accrues as Boggs sketches her native state from multiple points of view: male and female, young and old, black, white, and Indian. The tension comes to a head with “Homecoming,” about a boy who moves from Brooklyn to Virginia and his transformation from football star to drug dealer. At 40 pages, it’s the longest piece in the collection and, plot-wise, the most traditional. Regardless, the story hammers home the themes of the collection: the clashes between dreams and reality and the fault-lines of race and class in America. Above all, the story addresses the notion of what it means to belong to a community and call a place home. Mattaponi Queen is filled with homecomings and the celebrations are always bittersweet.
Read the full review here–the ending is especially nice.