‘Wolf and Rhonda’ by Jamel Brinkley

The high school hero, the former hottie – “the odd lumps of her figure bulged like the scutes of a turtle’s shell” – and the overweight girl, still overweight as a thirty-seven-year-old, are some of the people at the St. Paul’s Class of 1991 reunion at the Tavern on Bruckner in the south Bronx. The narrative shifts between Wolf, now known as “plain old Wilfred Jones” and Fat Rhonda who had “long ago decided it wasn’t worth it to pay much attention. The world was too awful.” The two in their youth had once had sex in a church. At the reunion it looks for a moment as if it will happen again, but it doesn’t. Brinkley’s complex and patient consideration of what has made them what they are creates people not characters. Wolf and Rhonda were on my mind long after I had finished reading.

From A Lucky Man, Graywolf Press, 2018