Once and Future Lovers

If you aren’t familiar with Sheree L. Greer, let me introduce you to her debut short story collection, Once and Future Lovers. As the titles suggests, love threads the stories together, but prominent themes such as family and maturation are also infused in the characters and their experiences. The collection explores the love of self and others and pleasure, as well as the challenges that love presents in fledgling to lifelong relationships. The collection includes eight stories, some original to this book; some first found their home in other publications. Most feature same-sex love between women; a couple don’t.

Greer writes with intention and the majority of the stories feel deeply personal. The stories are slathered in authentic, human experiences, whether good or bad. The author digs into her characters to unearth their desires and faults. For me, this is the stuff good short stories are made of.

I particularly enjoyed “Dreaming Woman,” “Baby Girl,” “I Do All My Own Stunts,” and “The Beginning of Something.” “I Do All My Own Stunts” speaks to perseverance and memories; memories glittered with exhilaration and pain, both physical and emotional. The story unfolds through the nameless protagonist’s history with bikes. The story is metaphorical, reminding readers that whenever you fall, dust yourself off and get back up again. The protagonist learned this lesson at the tender of age of four, but in adulthood, resiliency is overshadowed by the intricacies of a romantic relationship.

Greer ventures back in time to introduce Arthur Turner and the Grady sisters in “The Beginning of Something.” Set in the summer of 1953, this story is excerpted from a longer, forthcoming work. If you’ve already read Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction, you will recognize Arthur as well as Iris Grady, the youngest of the three sisters. This story introduces us to their earlier days, the moments that unveil their hopes and write their futures. It’s a layered story that touches on many topics— from wanderlust to incest to the Black migration. To eighteen-year-old Iris, Arthur represents adventure and promise. In Iris, Arthur sees possibility. Iris has been waiting for the ticket that will grant escape from the monotony of Wisconsin, and she’s willing to go despite of the consequences.

I’m sure you’ll find Once and Future Lovers an enjoyable read. But, like me, you may find this collection too short. I wish it were longer by two or three more stories that include love experiences that dance on the fringes of our familial and romantic relationships. Nevertheless, it’s an hour or two of reading time well spent.

Reviewed by: Lauren Cherelle

Lauren Cherelle uses her time and talents to traverse imaginary and professional worlds. She recently penned her sophomore novel, The Dawn of Nia (Resolute Publishing, 2016). Outside of reading and writing, she enjoys new adventures with her partner of fourteen years. You can find Lauren online at Twitter, lcherelle.com, and Goodreads