I received this book from The Next Best Book Club in exchange for an honest review.
A Geography of First Kisses is a short story collection that follows Southern women in various stages of their lives. We have a young girl collecting boyfriends as she aimlessly tries to find her path, a newlywed couple searching for a missing horse, a young mother who must confront her views of faith and miracles when her baby disappears, another mother who finds kinship with a gorilla in a zoo. These women reflect and challenge ideas of womanhood as they learn to be more familiar with themselves and where they are in their lives.
This collection just didn’t do it for me. I really wanted it to; the cover is gorgeous and the description sounds like it would be filled with stories just to my liking. Sadly, that was not the case. The writing itself was good, I really enjoyed Davidson’s prose, especially her descriptions of colour and nature. I could visualize everything very well, but the stories just didn’t hold me. They’re all fairly short, but even then I had trouble focusing on what was happening plot wise or really caring about any of the characters.
There were a few that really stuck out to me. I really liked the characters in We Are Here Because of a Horse and would have LOVED a longer novel of the two of them, such an interesting past and dynamic between these two characters. I also loved Gorilla, it was so unique and different from all the stories in the collection, and not just because it was the only one set in Germany! I loved the protagonist and the drab melancholy that hung over the story. I also loved the imagery in If You Ask Them Nicely.
While A Geography of First Kisses wasn’t for me, I do think there’s many readers who would adore this. Davidson is an excellent writer with beautiful prose and gorgeous descriptions, I just wasn’t the right reader for this collection.
Publication: April 11th 2023
Publisher: Kallisto Gaia Press
Pages: 150 pages (Paperback)
Source: TNBBC (Thanks Lori!)
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
My Rating: ⛤⛤
In The Geography of First Kisses, one finds portrayals of quiet elegance reminiscent of early-20th-century art films. The fourteen ethereal stories are tethered to the bays and backwaters of southern Louisiana, the fields of Iowa and Oklahoma, the pine woods of Florida, places where girls and women seek love and belonging, and instead discover relationships as complicated, bewildering, even sorrowful. A New Orleans girl spends a year collecting boyfriends and all the while considers the reach of her misadventures; a newlywed couple travels to Tulsa in search of a horse gone missing, perhaps more in search of themselves; a new mother is faced with understanding the miracles and mysteries of faith when her baby disappears; a young daughter travels to Tallahassee with her mother, trying to unravel the meaning of love crossed with abandonment. Saturated with poetic illusion and powered with prose of a dark, pulsating circuitry, the collection combines joy, heartache, and tenacity in a manner sorely missed in today’s super-structured literature.