The Awkward Black Man by Walter Mosley
Mosley presents distinct characters as they struggle to move through the world in each of these stories—heroes who are awkward, nerdy, self-defeating, self-involved, and, on the whole, odd. He overturns the stereotypes that corral black male characters and paints a subtle, powerful portrait of each of these unique individuals. In "The Good News Is," a man’s insecurity about his weight gives way to a serious illness and the intense loneliness that accompanies it. Deeply vulnerable, he allows himself to be taken advantage of in return for a little human comfort in a raw display of true need. "Pet Fly," previously published in the New Yorker, follows a man working as a mailroom clerk for a big company—a solitary job for which he is overqualified—and the unforeseen repercussions he endures when he attempts to forge a connection beyond the one he has with the fly buzzing around his apartment. And "Almost Alyce" chronicles failed loves, family loss, alcoholism, and a Zen approach to the art of begging that proves surprisingly effective.