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Nine Bar Blues

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The stories collected in Nine Bar Blues weave emotion, spirit, and music, captivating readers with newfound alchemy and the murmurs of dark gods. Rooted in rhythm, threaded with magic, these tales encompass worlds that begin in river bottoms, pass through spectral gates, and end in distant uncharted worlds. These stories describe the pain that often accompanies the confine ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published April 21st 2020 by Third Man Books
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Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  138 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sheree's writing is dark but ethereal. Her language is beautiful but at times paints pictures of the horrifying. The stories in Nine Bar Blues are subtle & sublime, running deep, & rich with symbolism and imagery, they tell of black defiance, struggle, and liberation and it's all held together by some very poetic prose. It's not always an easy read because it has a lot of packed and concentrated content. And that having being said, I think I'll just go ahead and read it again, rn.

Every story ha
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When you are given Life, at some point in Time you got to live it. And Freedom is not something you find, it's something you make.

A fantastic collection of stories filled with tradition, folklore, double dutch and love.

I'm always looking for moments and these tales had plenty

How we traveled between worlds, the enslaved and the free, the whole and the broken. How we stayed in the light when so much of the world trafficked in darkness.

Down by the river, where the water is brown-black and slippery
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mystical, magical, mythical, musical: this is the good stuff. Aside from the poignancy and strength of each individual story, this is by far one of the best arranged collections I have ever read. Reading from the front cover to the back gives the reader a sense of accrued wisdom, the same way that each generation inherits from the last, each story shares secrets with the others in some sense. Moreover, the smartness of the emotional arrangement is likely vital for some readers: the most uncomfor ...more
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
« Even a mother’s love can’t change a child’s fate. »

This amazing collection of stories is a real book experience, mystical and magical. The author will take you on a spiritual and musical journey across the United States of America. A delight to read.

At the time when I wrote this review, I have read most of the short stories featured in this brilliant collection. The writing is beautiful and there are plenty of wonder, magic, mystery, and music in the stories. However, there is also a certain elusiveness that makes me feel that I can't quite grasp the stories being told. It feels like reading in a fog. Sometimes I think I understand the essence of the story, but more often than not, I feel like I don't know where the story is taking me. Perh ...more
May 17, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: short-stories
If you like the visceral feels of authors like Octavia Butler and Kafka, give this a try. While I had flashes of visuals that briefly immersed me into the narrative of various stories, the drama just felt too dependent on trauma, and I'm the wrong kind of tired right now to wade through it. YMMV! ...more
Shannon (That's So Poe)
Mar 27, 2021 marked it as 2021-dnf-nfn
DNF (Did Not Finish) @ 15%

The writing in this is incredibly atmospheric and beautiful, but also very abstract and experimental. Although I thought the themes I could grasp were excellent, most of this went over my head! I eventually conceded defeat. I think this would be a wonderful collection for anyone a little more literary than I am, though!
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I didn’t really get into these stories until about 40% in. The first several stories were interesting but vague and a little confusing. I’m all for some mystery and open endings, but I also don’t want to finish a story genuinely confused. I thought “Head Static” was the most compelling and it convinced me to finish the collection. Some of the stories are interconnected so it’s satisfying to read them as a whole. Overall this was a beautifully crafted collection of fantasy stories.
Krystal Rains
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Take a spin through the mind and music of a masterful storyteller. Sheree Renee Thomas is indeed a master of her craft, as she weaves stories and music through a shadowy realm of speculation...through many times and locations, with people real and imagined. An adept awarding winning editor of anthologies, she starts her own collection with a steady beat and increases the tempo on each page, with each story. My particular favorite was Madame and the Map A Journey in Five Movements. Haunting and h ...more
W.L. Bolm
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My brain isn't good at writing reviews these days, but this is a beautiful and haunting collection filled with prose so lyrical that it turned to song as I was reading. Glad I bought the book because I will be returning to these stories again. ...more
Eugen Bacon
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What Sheree Renée Thomas offers are words that race together. Character-hued dialogue that dances the story forward. Textual music that gives movement to worlds of sound like thunder breaking the sky. Your body moves, all your parts liquid fire from a single flame. A ricochet of melodies inside your skull opens possibilities, pathways to understanding invisible pyramids beneath your feet. There’s everything special about Nine Bar Blues.
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Every sentence in this book is a poem.

I’ll be honest, I found the first handful of short stories in this collection rough around the edges. The prose were beautiful, but the narrative thread was a bit frayed for my taste.

However, around the halfway point, it really picks up. Stories like Head Static and Shanequa’s Blues-or Another Shotgun Lullaby elevate this collection as a whole.
Doris Raines
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Danian Jerry
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Nine Blues is a fantastic read, an effortless blend of music, mythology, and troubled hearts. Reading this book, I found myself enraptured with the lives of these characters and the worlds that they inhabit. These stories took me all over the world and between worlds and sang to me the entire way. The writing is adventurous and lyrical and indicative of the human condition. I would strongly suggest this short story collection to anyone who loves speculative fiction.
In this absorbing collection, Sheree Renée Thomas sends her readers on a journey through a strange portion of time. Anchored in music, folk tales and magic, Nine Bar Blues is a poetic dive into culture and history which made me lose my way and find myself again, among the timeless characters of these short stories. ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Karen Russell
Stories imbued with so much poetry and music and magic, they left me genuinely wonderstruck. Characters you'll want to check in on long after turning the last page and settings so rich and real it's *almost* like you're traveling (extremely grateful for that in 2020). Bonus joy: The story easter eggs hidden in the gorgeous cover art. ...more
Maya Detwiller
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The first book I've been able to finish since March. Thomas writes these stories with an ancient rhythm that broke through the stiff corners of quarantine-psyche and softened them with copper and river water. ...more
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous book full of insights, surprises and wonders. Layers of history, folklore and cultural details make this nine bar blues one I want to hear over and over, delicious, intriguing, mystical and unforgettable.
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Completely different from my usual genres

This collection of short stories is completely different from anything I have read before. I was done with the third story before I figured out the title. But even though it is not my usual, the stories were compelling and gave voice to the longing in the heart. Thank you for an uplifting experience.
Fantastic collection of thought-provoking and sometimes heart-rending genre stories rooted in African-American urban and rural life and the African diaspora. Most of these stories have music as a base or prime component. Thomas's words dance and sing. ...more
M.L. Desir
Thomas's prose possesses an eclectic flair. This collection of short stories is enchanting and each tale she has spun ranges from quirky, spellbinding, heart-wrenching, haunting, and beautiful. Strum through the pages to discover pain, triumph, revelations, and as Prince Rogers Nelson (may he rest in peace and power) once crooned and confessed, there is indeed "Joy in Repetition". As you reread these stories, may you discover something fascinating again and again. ...more
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
'Nine Bar Blues' by Sheree Renee Thomas is a superb collection of stories that weave together around the core theme of music. Though they all incorporate music in some way or another, these stories are varied as they wind in and out of different settings, time periods, and genres. These stories are also deeply entwined with the spiritual world and those that live just beyond our own. Thomas has a way of writing and stitching sentences together that makes the stories flow like music, often wit
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This #ownvoices short story collection should be required reading for so many reasons, and the author deserves as wide a readership as possible. The stories incorporate an aesthetic she calls the New Weird South, which combines elements of the Old South but fuses it with aspects of the New Weird, which Jeff and Ann Vandermeer are notable for disseminating, particularly in their anthology focusing on this sub-genre. This collection is unique, full of emotion, and belongs to a class of its own. It ...more
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
These beautiful and sometimes wistful stories set off a longing in my heart for my native hometown of Memphis Tennessee. They are filled with music and made me want to dance again and I have not danced in a long time. Ms. Thomas is a deeply gifted writer and a natural storyteller and I will tell you, once I picked up this book it was real difficult to put down. Just good stories and good reading . . . good stories for people who appreciate good stories. Recommended very much.
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I strongly believe that the story is unique
Mucaab 12
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Personally, I think this book is to much so emotional
E.D.E. Bell
As it offers, this book explores the blues, in particular, its connections across time. Deep, spiritual. Poetic. With metaphors and untied endings, it requests immersion. Just, lovely.

I want to address the content notes because as a person very sensitive to these, I received different accounts, and finally just decided to try it.

This collection addresses topics of brutality including slavery, abuse, oppression, child sexual assault, and self-harm. There are multiple references to skin harm and f
Alexandra Forrest
DNF at 50%. Some stories were ok but for the most part I just could not get into this book at all.
Just a little depressing and plodding for me.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it liked it
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Sheree Thomas — also credited as Sheree R. Thomas and Sheree Renée Thomas — is an American writer, book editor and publisher.

Thomas is the editor of the Dark Matter anthology (2000), in which are collected works by some of the best African-American writers in the genres of science fiction, horror and fantasy. Among the many notable authors included are Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, Charles

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“And Lord knows I have seen my share of Death and raised my hand to pass it on. Death follows me now like it did all those years. I lost my father, a blacksmith, from typhoid, and five brothers and sisters. I lost my uncle when them Matlock boys murdered him, and I barely had whiskers when I murdered two of them. I lost my twin sister Fannie when she died in childbirth. Lost my baby daughter named after her. I’ve seen death and death has seen me.” 0 likes
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