‘South Congress’ by Bryan Washington

I like a career story, although the work in this story is strictly off the books. Avery and Raúl are “equal opportunity pharmacists…a dirty old man and a Guatemalan in a Corolla”, selling drugs on the streets of Houston. Washington’s linked collection Lot is firmly rooted in that city and its streets like a “tangle of dirty shoelaces”. Like many of the characters in the collection, Raúl is having a rough time – an immigrant far from home and exploited in a new country – but Washington’s stories are full of human closeness. There’s a tenderness in the working relationship between the young man learning English, and his fast-talking acquaintance, Avery.

First published in Midnight Breakfast 13, and available to read here. Collected in Lot, Riverhead Books, 2019

‘How Many’ by Bryan Washington

This story was included in the NYers flash fiction series that ran over the summer. Bryan’s debut collection Lot, published earlier this year is amazing and essential. Every story’s an out and out banger. But what I loved about this flash piece was how it captured gay hook-up culture in several short paragraphs. It needs to be buried as a time capsule, that’s how fucking on it ‘How Many’ is. “The first one takes you back to his place, on Mandell. He asks you to top him and you do and that’s it. ….. The fifth one takes you home from Blur. You decide to let him fuck you.” No amount of emojis cover this brilliance. 

First published in The New Yorker, August 8 2019 and available to read online here