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InstaReview: Memorial by Bryan Washington

"A story is an heirloom. It's a personal thing. You don't ask for heirlooms. They're just given to you."

You may not know that we Overeducated Women with Cats met while attending Rice University in Houston, Texas, so we were already fans of fellow Houstonian Bryan Washington. There is nothing like reading stories set in this exceptional city that holds a special place in our hearts.

In his newest novel, Memorial, Washington’s familiar voice weaves stories spanning the diverse Houston socioeconomic and racial landscape (not unlike in his delightful collection of short stories, Lot). Benson and Mike’s queer inter-racial relationship is the central point of the novel, but their respective broken family dynamics contribute to their own crumbling relationship and add complexity and emotional depth to the narrative.

Washington doesn’t shy away from representing marginalized voices and we love that - Benson is HIV positive, Mike is unapologetically fat, and both men experience racialized microaggressions. These men are relatable in their imperfections and fumbling through life, but can feel flat and overly dysfunctional in their interactions at times.

Ultimately, we give Memorial 4 stars and encourage you to read it!


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