Sweet and Low by Nick White

Sweet and Low

Nick White

In honest and provocative prose, Nick White's short stories are a thrilling adventure with unexpected turns, deconstructing the core qualities of Southern fiction.

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NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF SUMMER 2018 BY O Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, New York Post, The Millions, Southern Living, POPSUGAR, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Review of Books

Praised by the Washington Post as "Tennessee Williams . . . transposed to the twenty-first-century South," Nick White returns with a stunning short-story collection that tackles issues of masculinity, identity, and place, with a sharp eye for social commentary and a singular handling of character.

At first glance, the stories in Sweet and Low seem grounded in the everyday: they paint pictures of idyllic Southern landscapes, characters fulfilling their roles as students, wives, boyfriends, sons. But they are not what they seem. In these stories, Nick White deconstructs the core qualities of Southern fiction, exposing deeply flawed and fascinating characters--promiscuous academics, aging podcasters, woodpecker assassins, and lawnmower enthusiasts, among others--all on wildly compelling quests. From finding an elusive bear to locating a prized timepiece to making love on the grave of an iconic writer, each story is a thrilling adventure with unexpected turns. White's honest and provocative prose will jolt readers awake with its urgency.

Advance Galley Reviews

It's been a while since I read short stories, so I was a really excited about this book. After reading the first two or three stories, I was so surprised by the way they're intertwined. Some of them ended too soon, and left me wondering about how the story could've been developed a little bit more. It was definitely a light read that I enjoyed quite a lot.

I received an advanced copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This is a collection of short stories. I enjoyed some more than others. It felt like some of them ended too soon and left me wanting more. So, it was kind of hit or miss for me.

Some stories were really great. Others were okay. All in all... I liked it. I didn't love it, but I liked it.

Wonderful collection of short stories. Such a strong Southern voice, reminiscent of Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. Each story was a miniature adventure.

I found a bit of quirk in each one of these stories yet it wouldn't have taken much more to just turn this into a full fledged book. That was probably the point though: to keep the reader guessing. There were some parts that were really out there which I love. I thought this was a good book of short stories and loved the attention to detail.

Nick White’s collection of stories Sweet and Low are best described as evidence of the new South. Ever present are the themes that demonstrate the complexity of the South – the oppressive heat and beauty of our states (in this case, Mississippi); the animals we do life with and in spite of; and the people that are both our charm and disgrace – often in the same soul. Students of the Southern greats will recognize the peculiar, the odd, the disfigured, the freaks – in setting, narrative and character. Since it has been a while since I’ve read what I’d consider pure Southern literature, this read made me feel it was nice to come home. While I describe this collection as reflective of the new South, it isn’t because there is anything new about the themes in White’s collection, but the acceptance and absorption of them into the natural state is. Divided into two parts, the first- “Heavenly Bodies” – is a collection of four unrelated stories. Within these four is perhaps the most intense short story I’ve ever read. In “Cottonmouth, Trapjaw, Water Moccasin” a farmer finds himself pinned to the ground and face to face with the title character. A prolonged stare down between the two induces a reflection by the old man in keeping with what Flannery O’Connor once said, “I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace.” This story alone is worth the purchase price of the collection. The stories in part two “The Exaggerations” have a common character, Forney, who – in the course of six stories – grows from being orphaned by a father’s early death and a mother following her dream in Nashville to a writer/father of boy struggling with a family curse and his own “differentness.” I enjoyed watching Forney grow, and found myself looking forward to each new chapter of his life. I enjoyed this collection a lot. It has some strong sexual content that won’t be to everyone’s taste, but that aside, a worthy read for anyone who loves the South and our literature. This collection is available June 5, 2018.

The short story… what a wonderful medium for the written word. A subject not always wholly developed. Just enough to tantalize and tease. May is Short Story Month. Reading Sweet and Low is a wonderful way to celebrate it. The stories are not ‘sweet’ however. Each one seems to speak of a difficult subject. Certainly not for the faint of heart. But the writing is exquisite and the thoughts are honest, though frequently troublesome. My favorite of all the stories was the fourth: THESE HEAVENLY BODIES. Its plot kept me mesmerized as Benjamin thought of and encountered the Cade sisters. Others are good too. They describe relationships with peers, parents and others!! Nick White really knows how to turn a phrase. I recommend this book.

Very well written. Just not my cup of tea. I only read the first few stories as the stories are about gay men, and as a straight woman, I really do not want to read about the romantic interludes of gay men. Perhaps this is what this author is known for and I walked into it unwittingly, but I did not see anything in the summary that gave any indication that the short stories would be gay fiction.

I loved this collection. The writing style is great, the stories interesting and real, and the characters engaging. This is a solid read for anyone who loves short stories.

I received a kindle arc of this book in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I appreciated each short story that the author presented and could relate to the locations found within most because I’ve lived in the Midwest most of my life and have moved to the South. So, a lot of the places and references were well known to me. I liked the rawness and realism that Nick White portrayed in each story. I felt that he didn’t sugar coat anything and presented it without hesitation so that the reader could feel exactly what he was attempting to portray for themselves. I am also a bit on the fence for short stories… as I do like them, I am usually left wanting more from the story as it ends and this is how I felt with several of the stories within this collection. I felt that I was really getting to know a character throughout each story and was intrigued by the story telling and then it would abruptly end. Otherwise, I found the writing very descriptive and the stories well-written and feel that Nick White is a great storyteller. Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy for me to review.

A true Southern writer for the twenty-first-century. Although stories are about everyday life, they are not what they seem. Nick White examines the main threads of Southern fiction, exposing deeply flawed and fascinating characters on wonderful set of stories. His truthful and enticing writing was wonderful; I could not put it down.

I loved the short story Cottonmouth Trapjaw, Water Moccasin. I wished the entire book held me as captive as this one did. Also, the last half of book was series of connected short stories that I found I would have enjoyed being turned into a Novella, at least. There was a lot happening there that begged for more.

I enjoyed the first part of the collection. The second half seemed as though it could have been a novella. I wasn’t sure if the stories from the first part were then related somehow to the second after I finished. There were some stories where the abrupt endings made it feel incomplete and others that it seemed to work.

Nick White's short story collection is an important contribution to Southern Gothic literature. Filled with flawed and often haunted characters across the Delta, both the mundane and the oddities of everyday is found here. The second half of the book contains stories that are interconnected with many of the same characters, focusing on important moments in their lives and revealing information that paint a clearer picture of previous stories. That being said, short stories are hit or miss for me. While I see the value of this collection, the abrupt endings without resolutions left me unable to connect with the characters or their stories on even a basic level. Thanks to the Penguin Random House for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I decided to rate each story of this collection individually and then round out their total for the book as a whole. Taking into account the rating of each story individually, this book gets 3.4 stars from me. Essentially, that means it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't that great. For the most part, the stories in this collection were just okay. I found the first stories in this collection to be the best ones. I can confidently say I really enjoyed Cottonmouth, Trapjaw, Water Moccasin; Gatlinburg; and Sweet and Low. The rest of the stories were a hit or miss for me. In addition, considering the fact that most of the stories in this collection were interconnected, I couldn't understand why this wasn't a novel. it didn't make a lot of sense for this to be a collection of short stories when, a lot of the time, we were dealing with the same characters. It was just odd. Another thing about this book that bothered me was that most of the stories ended abruptly. Their endings were either unsatisfactory or too sudden for me to enjoy. In the end, I only wish the stories had been as good in the second half of this book as in the first half.

I did not like this book. Short stories that skip around in time and sometimes you aren't even sure of the time period. Too much sex and gay relationships. Tries to make a point of how the South looks upon people who are usually bullied or not popular, not even necessarily gays, but Siamese twins, and others. I think this could be done in a much better way. Not recommending.

I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I liked the story telling aspects and the language was beautiful. I was really able to visualize what was happening. I know this is a collection of short stories, but it was a little choppy for me. The stories in the beginning didn't seem to relate to the stories in the second half of the book. At points the book was a bit slow too, especially towards the end. I was hooked to some of the characters, especially in the middle of the collection. I also got confused at times because I didn't know if the point of view had changed. This wasn't one of my favorite books I have read, but I did enjoy the writing style, and word choice. The author has a way of describing things in a way that sounds beautiful, but also fresh. Overall, I'm glad I read this book, I just wish it would have flowed more smoothly.


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