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Blackberries, Blackberries

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  338 ratings  ·  47 reviews
"Being country is as much a part of me as my full lips, wide hips, dreadlocks and high cheek bones. There are many Black country folks who have lived and are living in small towns, up hollers and across knobs. They are all over the South--scattered like milk thistle seeds in the wind.
Paperback, 184 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Toby Press (first published July 7th 2000)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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Brown Girl Reading
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of short story collections about women
I read this one gradually over the month of February. I'm still trying to get used to and love short story collections. As it turns out I loved this one. It is a series of short stories that turns around women and young girls. It has a southern drawl to it since it seems to be based in Kentucky. The author Crystal Wilkinson is from Kentucky. Each story contains themes that touch women to their core - sexuality, coming of age, child birth, relationships, racism, etc. The stories are as short as a ...more
I try not to say this often so I won’t say it lightly—this is a very important book, with a sort of attentive brevity that you rarely see in work deemed “important.” In less than 200 pages, I felt overwhelmed by and completely aware of these characters, many of whom are the sort of long-suffering matriarchs and caretakers who rarely become the focal points of fiction. There are so many beautifully rendered moments of unexpected friendships, alliances, and romances here, ones that sneak up in ...more
I first learned of Crystal Wilkinson while browsing a list of winners for the Ernest J. Gaines Award For Literary Excellence, a national award honoring rising African-American fiction writers. Wilkinson won the award in 2016 for her novel ‘Birds Of Opulence.’ This is her debut, a collection of eighteen weighty short stories filled with the voices and histories of “black, country women with curious lives.” Wilkinson’s prose is lean (“His eyes: shiny, the color of buckeyes”), sensual (“Her velvet ...more
Jai Danielle
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it

This may be the best short story collection I've read. Still surprised that this was Wilkinson's debut. Well-crafted stories with a southern twist.
Michael Strode
Crystal Wilkinson has managed to capture in this text a series of expressive, heartfelt, funny, sorrowful, sentient, and somber vignettes of life amongst folk in the wide open range and spread out places. The problems are the same, but there is a need for a community to draw together even with the distance of two counties between them.

Each story reads like a snapshot. It reminds me of visiting my Grammy Kathy or Great Aunt Ethel and looking through one of their photo albums where each picture
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This book is as important to the canon of Kentucky literature as any that has come before it. It is rich in character, and richer still in place and cultural experience. It magnifies how much more similar we country/rural folk are rather than different: every worry, every struggle, every joy regardless of color or economic status. Whether the reader is Appalachian, Southern, rural, black, white, mixed or none of these, there's more to be learned from these pages than one can imagine. Wilkinson ...more
Sonora Taylor
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful collection. I liked every story.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stories of womanness from girlhood to death and dying.

Couldn’t love it more if I tried.
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Cristina by: Spalding University
What I appreciated about these stories is the way that Wilkinson was able to draw us into everyone of her characters' lives and then really just give us these moments in such alluring detail. There is an inherent "life goes on" feeling about many of them and that whether it's a woman trying unsuccessfully to break the bonds of a controlling mother or another keeping a horrible secret from her mother so long that she finally breaks and kills her abusive husband and ends up in prison, these women ...more
Connor Smith
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, ebook
One interesting thing about her stories is that every now and then one is told by a sort of spying, omniscent narrator that never participates directly. I've long wondered how much you can get to know an author from what they write. Surely the contents of the stories can be imagined, and therefore have little resemblence to the author. But what about these consistent storytelling characteristics?

That being said, this collection features a wide variety of stories that feel like they could have
Ana Campanha
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had to think a bit if this book deserved 3 or 4 stars. It's made of several short stories about black strong women trying to make a living in a tough world. Some short stories (eg. the first and the last ones) were pretty amazing and made me think a lot about what I would do in the same situation. Other ones weren't that good but got my attention anyway. I'm giving it 4 stars because I believe I will remember some stories and their unique characters for a long long time. Their stories are ...more
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A compilation of short stories set in the rural South about the lives of African American men and women. The stories may be short but they are haunting and beautifully written. They are stories of love, fear, pain, acceptance, resignation, romance and determination. Not all the stories are pretty. Not all the stories are sad. But all the stories will leave a lasting imprint on your soul after you've read them.
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories is a well-written, documented account of black Appalachian women. Their joys, sorrows, triumps and pain are articulated in a humananistic manner, very realistic and telling.
Wilkinson has delved into the tenacity of women who perservere regardless of their circumstances and gender. True meaning of womanist.
4-4.5 rating.
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a collection of stories about Black life in Kentucky as seen through the eyes of the people who experienced it. Very good writing about the culture and lives as seen through the author's eyes.
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this collection. It tells the story of so many matter the race we all feel the same things at one time or another. Wilkinson describes these feelings beautifully. I had the chance to meet her at a Writer's Conference in Hazard, KY and I was very impressed with her spirit.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had this on my list because I don't read many works from published by small presses and want to make more of an effort to read books from these kinds of sources. The author was local-ish to me and her Kentucky roots showed in every short story. This was one lyrical and mesmerizing collection.
Maya Shumowsky
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Beautiful, uplifting, heartbreaking, tragic. This describes the different stories by different black women and their life experiences in Kentucky. Their stories cross a wide range of spectrums and will leave you feeling countless emotions.
Cara Davis
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great Writing Style and Emotions

I picked up this book because I was taking a course under Crystal Wilkinson and fell in love with her writing style. It's beautifully crafted stories and some might bring you to tears.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Outstanding African American voice from Kentucky. The author describes herself as a "black country girl." These stories speak to universal realities and dreams.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting subjects

Anyone who enjoys short stories.
Some stories needed more substance. Interesting subjects and happy and sad endings. Occasionally wanted more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is worthy of a Netflix series. Visual and visceral. And this is Wilkinson’s first book! Read it and let that sink in.
Whenever we hear the words “short story” cold sweat forms and we make breakneck dives into the shelter of a long reader. People dislike short stories with a passion. Heck, I even hate writing them because I have a problem with shutting up and simplifying my expressions as I like for my stories, my characters to keep getting into mischief. When I took a short story course in undergrad, I learned that there is an art form to the short n' sweet tale and only so few know how to paint it. Crystal ...more
T.L. Cooper
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Blackberries, Blackberries is a beautifully written collection of short stories by Crystal Wilkinson that manages to bring both laughter and tears to the reader as awareness of the realness of the stories captures the heart and mind. The stories explore mother-daughter relationships, love, soul searching, desire, loss, servitude, adultery, violence, and always the struggle to know one’s self through characters that leap off the page immersing the reader in their daily lives. Wilkinson’s use of ...more
This book was simply amazing. While some stories were stronger than others, they were all great. "Humming Back Yesterday" was one of the best because of the juxtaposition of two very separate but tied together events. "Ritual" had some of the best use of language I've ever read. Her description of a woman's inner body was brilliant. "Peace of Mind" was another favourite just because it made me laugh. I know a lot of women who that fits perfectly with and I can see it all going down. In summary, ...more
Morgan Matz
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
These stories are clear, genuine, and often surprising in the best kind of way. It's always a challenge in a short story to show a world to your reader clearly enough that they understand your characters, can imagine who they are and where they've come from, and why they have to do the things they do. Issues of race and gender and poverty in America are so huge and complicated, they can only be distilled the way Wilkinson manages does by a master storyteller. I loved this book, and I know I'll ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Crystal Wilkinson never ceases to amaze me. I want to give this book 5 stars, but I liked Water Street a bit more so I feel like 4 is more appropriate. Regardless, Wilkinson portrays life with an incredible eloquence. While the characters and scenes are all from and in Kentucky, the pieces are amazingly versatile and can be related to by a much larger population of people. Each of Wilkinson's characters have their own voice and their personalities are all distinctly different while sharing the ...more
Velicia Jerus Darquenne
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mfa-read
I would recommend it to anyone. The culture, language, and beauty of the pages soaks into your fingers while you read. So many character lives are created within this books, and it was great to meet them all. Though, some are heart wrenching.. Others are hopeful.. All of them are honest. I got to enter the lives of people I never would have, just like good literature should allow us to do. Thank you!
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
So amazing; like a sweet summer day. My husband always remembers the day he met me and the fact that I was reading this book. Will forever be one of my favorites . The characters are genuine and uncomplicated but at the same time, complex and unique. The stories come beautifully together like the pieces of your granny's favorite quilt. I love , love , this book!
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook
A book of short stories of african-american women! But not what i thought though written in short story form as if you could imagine yourself sitting at a kitchen table listening to this story, some stories were disturbing of child sex abuse. I see many people gave it 4 or 5 stars but I was not as impressed and found i had to take breaks in the week and come back to it once in awhile.
May 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
This was one of the best I've read in this genre. I felt like I was sitting with my elders as they told the stories or the people in their lives. I felt like I knew these characters and was right there with with them. Kudos to Ms Wilkerson. These are the type of stories I want to write.
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Crystal Wilkinson was born in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1962 and raised in Indian Creek, Kentucky. Her grandparents, Silas and Christine Wilkinson, took her into their care when she was six weeks old. Often describing herself as a country girl, Wilkinson's work reflects a love and homage to her Appalachian roots. She recalls growing up on her grandparent's farm where her grandfather planted tobacco and ...more