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Gorilla, My Love

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,601 ratings  ·  82 reviews
In these fifteen superb stories, written in a style at once ineffable and immediately recognizable, Toni Cade Bambara gives us compelling portraits of a wide range of unforgettable characters, from sassy children to cunning old men, in scenes shifting between uptown New York and rural North CaroLina. A young girl suffers her first betrayal. A widow flirts with an elderly b ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 30th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1972)
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Melanie Not at all. The title refers to a movie the narrator goes to the theater to see, but the theater management switches movies at the last minute. She's…moreNot at all. The title refers to a movie the narrator goes to the theater to see, but the theater management switches movies at the last minute. She's upset and complains. Recalling that past disappointment, though, is a way for the young girl to talk about adults in her life who have let her down. It is about disillusionment, and in some ways of a loss of innocence, but not of the physical kind.(less)

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4.12  · 
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 ·  1,601 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
For three years of my youth, I was a cheerleader, in junior high.

For two of those years, our squad would have been best described in one word: subpar. But, in our last year, we got a new coach and a new assistant, and both women declared, “We're going to the championships this year.”

Well, those ladies weren't kidding. Next thing we knew, we had given up every other aspect of our lives. We cheered every day but Sunday, going through our routine so compulsively, I had perpetual blisters on my ha
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am a white woman with what might meaningfully be called a ‘middle class’ British state education. A few months ago I attended Bare Lit Festival and in one of the talks there was some discussion of the implications of publishers’ belief that their market is middle class middle aged white women. Eventually a black woman in the audience spoke up to say enough time had been given to this topic; here’s an audience primarily of readers and writers of colour, and can we please talk about what this au ...more
Happy but not at all surprised to find this for sale at the Varina Public Library. That is correct: predominantly white rural Virginians ain't really feeling this badass author "strongly informed by radical politics, feminism, and African American culture." Boggles thee mind. Their loss. I've only read the first story, about a middle-aged woman who sees no reason not to show some cleavage, booze it up, and dance all sensual (no room left for the Holy Ghost!) with a flirty elderly blind man at a ...more
Read By RodKelly
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
This collection is a toss up...the first few stories are great; easy, colorful language, and vividly drawn, feisty characters. There are also recurring characters from story to story, which sort of ties a few of them together. Overall, this collection felt very one-note. Some stories also felt too overworked and forced. If I'm reading a string of (mostly) first-person POV vignettes, there has to be a coherent narrative thread that moves the story along; it wasn't quite there, and three or four o ...more
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, 2010
A number of 5 star short stories in this collection, some of the best I've ever read. Even if you're not a short story fan, you might like this. Interesting characters, thought-provoking twists, and overall good storytelling. I particularly love the feisty little girls that show up.

In her essay Writer to Writer: Remembering Toni Cade Bambara, Bell Hooks says "Throughout her life Bambara was a champion of the Black poor and working class...Few black writers have captured the wit and humor of bla
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Toni Cade Bambara is deep- her works cover issues that reflect the social climate, in particular, for people of color. Most of her works contain a sense of “black awareness” and she is well known for the dialogue and language of her characters. These dialogues are what give life to her characters. These characters, though fictitious, are raw and their stories provide insight into their lives and struggles.

Gorilla, My Love is a collection of 15 short stories that remain true to Bambara’s style.
Dec 07, 2016 rated it liked it
I thought that the short stories in this collection were funny and real and applicable to the time they were written in but also 2016. That said, there were some stories in the collection that I feel I just couldn't wrap my head. The first few stories in the book I found to be the funniest, but I could see that there were recurring themes/events that gave the book a feel of connectedness, whether it was the card/coffee reading magic to the kissing of toads and getting warts.
Jul 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful short stories with very vivid character descriptions. Although the stories were short they were power packed and reflective on life issues as seen from a child's view.
Sonya Feher
Gorilla, My Love is the first book of short stories I've read from Feminista's Top 100 Works by Women Authors. I'm not so sure about their mixing short stories, novellas, autobiography, and novels. Why not add some poetry and personal essays in there too? Or, how about making a top 100 list by genre so we're not comparing apples to gorillas?

Reading this book from cover to cover was challenging.If I'd just kept the book in the car for months and read a story anytime I was sitting in a waiting ro
Dov Zeller
I didn't have time to read these stories as carefully as I would have liked (had to get the book back to the library) and hope to pick the book up again at some point.

The first story "My Man Bovanne" is exquisite. I love the pathos and humor, the dynamics between a mother, Miss Hazel, and her children, and her frustration with a kind of self-righteousness that makes her kids feel they have the right to control her way of moving in the world. They see her behavior as overly sexual and miss the mo
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The stories in this collection have a lot in common and a lot not in common. They're mostly about strong-voiced african american women, they're unapologetically black and unapologetically feminist, many are about children or from the perspective of children, many contain similar characters with similar names, and they are filled with really colorful dialogue.

But where they differ is more interesting. Even within their variety, each story stands on its own stylistically. It seems Bambara doesn't
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Title of this book could also be "How To Be a Complete and Total Badass". There is tons of spirit and style, many of the stories read well. Underneath the breezy delivery are serious topics of race, class and gender. A couple of the later stories have a different style which is less coherent and approachable. I didn't enjoy those as much as the more direct ones. Overall pretty good.
Renégade ♥
The only proper mask to wear in life is your own damn face.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The beauty is in the simplicity in Gorilla, My Love, and in each story we are presented with more questions than answers in a series of stories taking place in New York and rural North Carolina. I look at stories like Bambara's in wonder because so much can be conveyed in the most seemingly mundane occurrences. Entire books' worth of gender/class/race politics crammed into short conversations between family members or exchanges between kids and their teacher in a way that necessitates we reexami ...more
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a part of my 2010 Summer Short Story Collection Challenge:

The fifteen taut stories are fascinating glimpses into the lives of Black women and girls, some in the streets in New York, some in the Southern small town. Bambara is a master of first person point of view and dialect--and her experiments using Black English feel effortless. This collection is dripping with voice.

The showpiece here is "The Lesson," which is actually the first thing I ever taught, when I was a student teacher in
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'd taught a few of the most frequently anthologized stories over the years in my Intro to Fiction courses over the years, but never read Cade Bambara's entire collection. I'm glad I finally did. The stories I already knew well--the title story, "The Lesson" and especially "Raymond's Run"--are beautiful, perfect stories, all from the first person pov of tween/teen working-class black girls, coming of age. Not all of the stories here are like that--some drop the first person and try to be experim ...more
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: af-am, american
Slice-of-life short stories about Black communities, usually in cities in the North, between 1940 and 1960. The stories are very well-written and are a joy to read. The collection was much funnier than I had expected. And the stand-out stories (My Man Bovanne, The Lesson, Happy Birthday, The Survivor, Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird, The Johnson Girls) are just perfect. Bambara is a master of the short story form. Every one of these stories seems perfectly crafted.

However, as a collection, the stori
This collection of stories are evocative of the world of the mid-twentieth century, which is when they were written, and, therefore, somewhat innocent, but also sometimes sassy. Most are written in the first person with authentic voices, especially those of the adolescent girls growing up and trying to make sense in their world. Beautifully written, and sometimes in dialect, with vivid descriptions, apt wisdom (" . . . gonna speak on your life and drop the truth in your lap"), and with great eff ...more
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Major Field Prep: 69/133
This collection of short stories primarily focuses on young female narrative voice and questions of adolescence, womanhood, interpersonal relationships, and all-black communities. The stories interrogate both black femininity and black masculinity. How does this relate to and build upon TCB's anthology The Black Woman? The masculinization of the BAM and the Civil Rights Movement, the reaction of black women writers and the rise of black feminism? Use of phonetic represent
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, race, biwoc
My friend who recommended this collection of short stories to me described it as "unapologetic." I can't think of a more fitting word. Some of the stories were difficult to follow perhaps because I am unaccustomed with the language style, however overall I found the unapologetic tone incredibly inspiring. "Raymond's Run" was my favorite and one of the best things I have read in a while. I recommend this book.
Apr 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Excellent voice-driven stories about black life in NYC and the south during the Civil Rights era. A young girl ponders a slow summer, an older women's politicized children browbeat her for flirting at a neighborhood party, a black record label employee takes her white boyfriend to the deep south to try and record wary blues musicians. The themes of social justice never feel heavy-handed, and the variety of perspectives all ring true, but are not limited to their settings.
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a badass collection of short stories, focused on the lives of black women in America. It is unapologetic, heartbreaking, hilarious, and real. It is full of poignant social commentary, and wonderfully-written. I cannot recommend it enough.
Sidik Fofana
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
SIX WORD REVIEW: Strong girls beautifully portray Black life
Shermaine Andrew
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you like short stories, then you’ll like this book. The first story, “My Man Bovanne” is about a middle-aged woman who’s at an event at a community center. She’s drinking, showing some cleavage and dancing flirtatiously with an elderly blind gentleman, she caught my attention right away. Or maybe the man was the flirtatious one, hmm. Her children didn’t think she was acting age appropriate. I was amused by her reaction.

The stories are well-written and narrated, some stories funny, some are d
Jul 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
although not all the protags in these stories are teenagers, many of them would appeal to the YA age range, despite these stories being published in the 60s and 70s. I read this at the same time as Danille Evans' Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self and they are both full of stories about the Black experience in America, some told in kind of a stream of consciousness style (more so in this collection) and they are both very very good. Where in Evans' collection I found easier to read, I ended ...more
Feb 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Bambara's stories are a pleasure to read. Her characters are so distinctive that they really seem to come to life. You have to love the little girl in the title story, if perhaps you might not want to have to be an adult dealing with her. The language really stays true to the voice of the character speaking. Foremost, though, I adore the description. Bambara often has characters trying to describe something by comparing to something else they know. It is wonderfully specific and concrete and dem ...more
Jul 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
When i was bemoaning my inability to follow Toni Cade Bambara's writings to a friend recently (in the forms of the Salt Eaters and These Bones are Not My Child), my friend said, "No, no..start with Gorilla, My Love" so, i did. and its amazing. Scrawled in the inside cover of my fantastic 1972 edition copy, in pencil, are Politics; the Black community; children a lot. Though a pretty simple overview of the books short stories, it definitley gets the gist. Beautifully writen, mostly first person n ...more
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
(FROM JACKET)In these fifteen superb stories, written in a style at once ineffable and immediately recognizable, Toni Cade Bambara gives us compelling portraits of a wide range of unforgettable characters, from sassy children to cunning old men, in scenes shifting between uptown New York and rural North Carolina. A young girl suffers her first betrayal. A widow flirts with an elderly blind man against the wishes of her grown-up children. A neighborhood loan shark teaches a white social worker a ...more
Alex Fontanetta
Feb 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
Superbly written. Each story appeals to raw human emotion and gives the reader just enough time to get to know the characters in each short story before moving on to the next one. This thus allows the reader to see pieces of himself in each of the protagonists. Written in the vernacular, her use of language adds life to her story but also makes it more taxing to read. Its a book that should not be rushed, or the reader may become agitated by the effort it requires to read her unique style of wri ...more
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Short stories first published anywhere from 1959 to 1971 and collected here in 1972. One or two are hard for me, but the rest are just wonderful. She gets you so clearly into the situation and the persons she is describing. It all just comes to life.
Not only is she a good storyteller, she also found a really good way to represent a "black dialect" of English. Much much better than any previous attempt I have seen. She uses very little spelling changes, mostly just words.

[What grade you in now, R
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Toni Cade Bambara, born Miltona Mirkin Cade (March 25, 1939 – December 9, 1995) was an African-American author, documentary film-maker, social activist and college professor.

Toni Cade Bambara was born in New York City to parents Walter and Helen (Henderson) Cade. She grew up in Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant (Brooklyn), Queens and New Jersey. In 1970 she changed her name to include the name of a West