...a multidimensional revelation whose invisibility until now is as grievous a loss to literature as the near-disappearance of Losing Ground has been to the world of movies ... delves deep into modern history and personal experience to yield, in calm yet prismatic phrases, urgent and deeply affecting insights into her times, which echo disturbingly today ... Collins’s style is fine, graceful, and reserved, but pierced with the harsh simplicity of lurking menace. It’s not a style that grabs at life but that moves into it, that passes through it with a quietly adamant determination to keep going but without any illusions about taking action.
Collins’ impressionistic, psychologically observant collection captures moments from a past era that should remind idealistic readers today that our disillusionment is not new ... At every turn, Collins burrows deep into the minds of her characters, mostly black women, and brings to life their daily joys and frustrations as well as their persistent anxieties ... Nearly 30 years after her too-early passing, this author’s powerful debut collection manages to perfectly embody the existential torment of her country.
Comparisons to Amy Hempel and Grace Paley have been made, and are apropos. Collins can work wonders with a single line ... There is admittedly — perhaps inevitably — some variation in quality among the 16 stories. I will even share my suspicion that the author herself, had she lived, might have regarded a few of them as not quite finished. But Collins’ voice is so original, her corpus so small and this discovery of her work so long overdue that one can only applaud the editors’ decision to err on the side of inclusion ... The best reason to read this book is simply that it is fantastic: original, provocative, revelatory and bursting with life.