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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  53 reviews
A suicidal father looks to an older neighbor -- and the Cookie Monster -- for salvation and sanctuary as his life begins to unravel. A man seeking to save his estranged, drug-addicted brother from the city's underbelly confronts his own mortality. A chess match between a girl and her father turns into a master class about life, self-realization, and pride: "Now hold on lit ...more
Hardcover, 194 pages
Published August 16th 2016 by University Press of Kentucky (first published August 5th 2016)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  229 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-favorites
Cross River is home to the United States' only successful slave rebellion, and from the first story in this collection, Good Times, all the way to the finale, Three Insurrections, you are captivated.

What stood out to me most about this collection is how inventive it was. Scott successfully plays by his own rules (I'm sure he had plenty of fun doing so!). Like many contemporary authors, he chooses to bypass the use of quotation marks when his characters speak, but that is the smallest part of his
Ben Loory
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Amazing collection. I'd been thinking about reading this for a long time because the cover kept catching my eye, but then last week this won some PEN America award and I was like, oh, the book with the birds?! So I read it. And every story was great! Really complex but fast-moving stories that constantly teeter on the verge of magical realism without ever quite tumbling over. They just bounce and hover there in this weird, highly realistic, semi-allegorical in-between area. Really loved thi ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Somewhere between 3.5 and 4 for this one. This feels like the writing of an author who is very in touch with the community and aware of the dealings of its residents. Even though these stories are fiction, it feels like Rion was telling them for a certain group - like they're their stories. I appreciated the variety of characters, which included quite a few teenage protagonists. I couldn't help but think about Lost In The City while reading this. Very different collection of stories with very si ...more
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
These stories have a lingering aspect to them. They come back after reading is done whether the reader intends to revisit or not. Well crafted, moving, and intelligent, definitely some nice work.
Jason Diamond
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent stuff. One of my favorite short story collections in a year filled with really fantastic short story collections.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mostly all I can say right now is damn, this is a fine book. I remember Roxane Gay tweeting several years back something to the effect of "Wow, Rion Amilcar Scott can sure write a great short story." I quickly found out for myself that she was right. I've followed his account and his writing for quite some time, but hadn't encountered many of the stories in this collection. This book is full of gems. It's rare for a short story collection to not have at least 2 kind of weak stories compared to t ...more
E Vikander
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Insurrections is a collection of short stories all set in the town of Cross River, Maryland. I could not relate to any of these stories, but that did not keep me from appreciating the bold writing and character richness. The story of Joan Santi—my favorite in the collection—simply hurt my heart. There is a lot said in these short stories. I’m hoping Scott’s next effort is a novel.
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
Bailed on page 9. The writing— in particular, its therapy-speak dialogue heaviness—in the first story turned me off immediately and utterly. No doubt others might respond more positively to this type of short fiction.
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received this ebook for free from Edelweiss for review purposes. I do not have to give a positive review, but do have to notify the reader how I received the book.

When I started Insurrections by Rion Amilcar Scott, I didn't enjoy it. The first short story was so strange- a man is rescued from attempting suicide by his neighbors. As their relationship grows, the man invites the neighbors to his child's birthday party where he has spent all his money on a Cookie Monster costume that smelled like
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After reading "Three Insurrections" (the last story in this book) in the Kenyon Review, I knew I had to read the whole collection. Like all strong literary fiction, these stories contain surprising inevitabilities. Unique characters enact unexpected behavior--all portrayed through fresh prose--framed in satisfying and moving narratives.

The characters are skillfully drawn with complexity, grace and humor alongside of brutality and struggle. I particularly like the way so many of souls of Cross R
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
He has these great set-ups, where the rest of the story just follows, as if he starts his stories with a boulder at the top of a hill, and the rest of the story is almost necessary, you have to watch it roll down the hill. Except sometimes it doesn't exactly go there. He's also really good at voices. Racial, class issues. Injustices abound. I get a sense in some of his stories of this idea of 'there but for the grace of god, go I', in that characters interact with other characters who are in wor ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 star

Scott is masterful at creating short series. I enjoyed all of these stories with the exception of 1 or 2. This is a author I will be following.
Michael B Tager
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing and sad and beautiful and funny. Cross River is such an alive place. Can't wait to read more by Scott. ...more
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't regularly enjoy short story collections, but this one made me feel like I've been missing something in my reading this year. Black cultural signifiers, maybe? Whatever the case, it restored a sense of direction in what I plan to read in 2020.

This gets a 3.5 from me. Very much looking forward to The World Doesnt Require You .
thoughts coming shortly
Like Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, and other great authors who create a town filled with stories, anecdotes and rife in the human condition, Rion Amilcar Scott's Insurrections tells enough stories from within Cross River, MD, for the reader to get a pretty good idea of how the town operates. The first story in the book grabs the reader and won't let go. This is a gritty book and timely as we experience the Black Lives Matter movement and protests. ...more
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection started off as intriguing and promising. Scott has an incredible sense of place and people, which he puts into every story. The writing is wonderful. The last couple of stories just didn’t catch my attention the same way most of them did. I struggled to finish the last one and the one before it. There are some real winners in this collection and overall it was a great read.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great collection. It makes me feel Cross River is a real place and Scott is just a reporter.
Apr 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
Completely overrated.
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent collection of short stories about the Black experience. I preferred the stories in the later half to the earlier half.
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It took me to the last couple stories to totally comprehend why people are so ecstatic about this book, but somehow in his first book, Scott has made a significant contribution to black letters in his first book, though the scholarship and erudition he imports into these stories, bringing in hiphop and the Caribbean diaspora and other contemporary elements. All the stories aren't cerebral-- the first couple just scared me with their sense of menace, and a couple made me scratch my head and smile ...more
Charles Heiner
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stories are based in the cities of Cross River, Maryland and Port Yooba, Virginia. The title, "Insurrections," is repeated throughout the book, referring to slave insurrections in the Caribbean, the insurrection of the former slaves that founded Cross River before the Civil War, and the characters' own acts of rebellion. In the last story, "Three Insurrections," the narrator recounts his father telling him "The Riverbabies—the Cross Riverians—they have an insurrection. And there is one to ...more
Michael Janairo
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recommend the story collection Insurrections by Rion Amilcar Scott.

The stories offer glimpses of life in the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland, a largely black settlement founded in 1807 after the only successful slave revolt in the United States.

In “Good Times,” a troubled man with a wife and child finds his way back into the good graces of his family through the help of a neighbor and a ratty old Cookie Monster costume. In “Everyone Lives in a Flood Zone,” a man searches for a brother
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Stories centered around the fictional, primarily African-American town of Cross River, MD. Many of these stories are delivered like a gut punch to the soul: biting, hard-hitting, rough. Not all of them though. Some are rough-edged but laced with a warmth and tenderness amidst depressive situations. This collection is reminiscent of Lost In The City by Edward P. Jones and that's high praise. The working class, DC area residents doing what's necessary to get by. My favorites were Juba, 202 Checkma ...more
Sean Carman
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this haunting and captivating collection of stories about life in the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland. The stories capture a sense of alienation and displacement but are also shot through with humanity and Scott's sharp wit. As Ben Loory said, they teeter on the edge of magical realism without ever tipping over. This is an entertaining, powerful collection. The best collection I've read in a long, long time.

My favorites included the opening story, "Good Times," in which the narra
Dec 25, 2019 added it
Horrifying and brilliant
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Insurrections: Stories by Rion Amilcar Scott is a collection of thirteen stories chronicling the lives of African American residents in the fictional town Cross River, MD.

I enjoyed the world Scott created, and he has stated that his future books will continue to explore Cross River. His characters are sad, violent, conflicted and real. His stories explore fatherhood, mental illness, addiction, immigration, and racism. I also was impressed by how he captured the angst of youth in some of his stor
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
*3.5 stars.
"'Young people today just don't know how to handle the burden they got'" (14).
"The burning-blast of beer-scented breath brought back memories of the days when they were young and poor and their bodies were the only entertainment they could afford" (14).
"...but listening--not drugs--was his true problem" (24).
"This broken man, reeling from daily compromise. Sarcasm and boxing the only things keeping him together" (54).
"'Chess is like real life. The white pieces go first so they got an
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I first heard Rion Amilcar Scott read in December 2015. I was captivated by his lyrical prose as the afternoon light came through the windows of Litmore—I had to get INSURRECTIONS when it came out.

In INSURRECTIONS, Scott opens windows into the world of the residents of the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland, a largely black settlement founded in 1807 after the only successful slave revolt in the United States. Scott portrays individuals growing up and growing old in this community—empathet
There were a few stories in this collection that I enjoyed - 'A Friendly Game', '202 Checkmates' and 'The legend of Ezekiel Marcus'; but I found the second half of the collection a bit tedious and I didn't enjoy some of the usual styles that were employed.

Memorable Quotes
"...the same things that make you want to kill yourself also save your life."

"Why didn't they just pull her aside, grab her, shake her, say what they had to say? Instead they whispered until whispering would no longer do."

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Rion Amilcar Scott is the author of the story collection, The World Doesn't Require You (Norton/Liveright, August 2019). His debut story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016), was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His work has been published in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Crab

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