cover image The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You: Stories

The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You: Stories

Maurice Carlos Ruffin. One World, $26 (192p) ISBN 978-0-593-13340-8

Ruffin (We Cast a Shadow) takes readers on a rich tour of hardscrabble New Orleans in his bracing latest. In “Beg Borrow Steal,” the 14-year-old narrator recounts the aftermath of his Pop’s stint in Angola for theft. While searching for employment, Pop laments how his wife recently pawned the jewelry he’d stolen for her before going to prison, then is surprised to learn how she came to have a nice new car. “Ghetto University” follow James Young, a recently laid-off college professor, who resorts to nightly muggings in the French Quarter to make ends meet. In justifying his actions, James reasons his profits are “reparations for each time some Becky or Karen crossed the street to avoid my path just as I greeted them.” (By the end of the story, the author flips the script on James with uncanny irony.) While some of the shorter pieces lack punch, such as the two-pager “Cocoon,” about the son of an exterminator who leaves to be a fashion designer, the author fills most of the stories with humor, wit, and soul. Fans of the author’s exceptional debut will want to take a look. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Aug.)