Author: Dantiel W. Moniz
Publisher: Grove Press
First Published: February 2, 2021
Genres: Literary Fiction, Short Stories
A livewire debut from Dantiel W. Moniz, one of the most exciting discoveries in today's literary landscape, Milk Blood Heat depicts the sultry lives of Floridians in intergenerational tales that contemplate human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in us all. Set among the cities and suburbs of Florida, each story delves into the ordinary worlds of young girls, women, and men who find themselves confronted by extraordinary moments of violent personal reckoning. These intimate portraits of people and relationships scour and soothe and blast a light on the nature of family, faith, forgiveness, consumption, and what we may, or may not, owe one another.
A thirteen-year-old meditates on her sadness and the difference between herself and her white best friend when an unexpected tragedy occurs; a woman recovering from a miscarriage finds herself unable to let go of her daughter—whose body parts she sees throughout her daily life; a teenager resists her family’s church and is accused of courting the devil; servers at a supper club cater to the insatiable cravings of their wealthy clientele; and two estranged siblings take a road-trip with their father’s ashes and are forced to face the troubling reality of how he continues to shape them.
Wise and subversive, spiritual and seductive, Milk Blood Heat forms an ouroboros of stories that bewitch with their truth, announcing the arrival of a bright new literary star.
Love requires a bareness, a certain pliability, and I didn’t thrill at the possibility of being transformed or wiped away.Milk Blood Heat is quite simply a stunning short story collection and an impressive debut. The stories in this collection felt as hot and sticky as the Florida sun, filled with complicated characters and the less-than-perfect lives that they lead. Having spent years living in Florida I felt at home while reading these stories, the microaggressions from the largely white middle-class inhabitants were deeply relatable.
The stories in this collection were all about power struggles; between mother and daughter, husband and wife, brother and sister. The titular Milk Blood Heat and The Hearts of Our Enemies shocked me, but they were easily my favorites. The story Thicker Than Water chilled me, it hit so close to home for me it was cathartic. There are a lot of strong stories to admire here. Moniz has a keen understanding of the ugliness that exists within people and the intimate ways that they hurt each other.
I loved every second of reading this book and am glad that I picked it up on a whim from the library. I will be reading pretty much anything that Moniz decides to write.
Trigger Warning: Suicide, Suicidal Depression, Infidelity, Statutory Rape, Cannibalism