Five-Carat Soul by James McBride

Five-Carat Soul

The stories in Five-Carat Soul--none of them ever published before--spring from the place where identity, humanity, and history converge. McBride explores the ways we learn from the world and the people around us. An antiques dealer discovers that a legendary toy commissioned by Civil War General Robert E. Lee now sits in the home of a black minister in Queens. Five strangers find themselves thrown together and face unexpected judgment. An Americ...

Details Five-Carat Soul

TitleFive-Carat Soul
Release DateSep 26th, 2017
PublisherRiverhead Books
GenreShort Stories, Fiction, Audiobook, Cultural, African American

Reviews Five-Carat Soul

  • Diane S ☔
    4.5 McBride shows us in this fantastic grouping of stories, a wide range of experiences from the viewpoint of blacks. They cover different points of history, from the Civil War and on. The Five-Carat Soul was the band name of a group of youths, starting from the age of nine, telling of life in the Bottoms, the section of a town in Pennsylvania that they called home. There are several of these connecting stories, narrated by a young boy called, Bu...
  • Trish
    On his website James McBride has a short biographical video in which he talks about his mother, his music, and his writing. Every one of the twelve kids in his New York City family growing up played music and read books. McBride himself plays saxophone, and played in a traveling band while writing his first book, The Color of Water. McBride says “we’re all the same…there’s none of that black and white stuff when one gets to the nursing ho...
  • Faith
    These stories cover a range of places and time periods. Some of them are poignant, charming and surprising, while others are heavy handed and clumsy. For me, the better stories are at the beginning of the book and I particularly liked the first story "The Underground Railroad Box Car Set". Unfortunately, I found "Mr. P and the Wind" to be an unbearable allegory with talking zoo animals. Since it was the final, and longest, story in the book it le...
  • Tayari Jones
    The best thing about short story collections is also the worst thing. This is that each story is. free-standing entity. You can read it and enjoy it and move on to the next. If you don't enjoy it, you can still move on to the next. I have never read a short story collection that didn't have at least ONE story that I could appreciate.This collection is full of winners! My favorite stories were the ones in the second half of the book. THE CHRISTMAS...
  • David
    This is a collection of amazing short stories by James McBride. Some of the stories are quite different from one another, yet there are definitely common threads, such as the stories about the members of the Five-Carat Soul Band. They all had a subtle spark of humor and some of the stories had remarkably surprising endings. I like stories that are unpredictable, and these stories definitely fit the bill.I didn't read this book; I listened to the ...
  • Ken
    My first McBride (as I did not read the much-lauded Good Lord Bird), Five-Carat Soul is an eclectic mix of shorts--one of those deals where you average stars because it scores 5 on technical merit and 3 on entertainment value. Some of the stories are set in our time, some in history, and some in a fantasy world of sorts. The opener, about a toy collector who's on to the Holy Grail of toys (a toy train once owned by Robert E. Lee, of all people), ...
  • Brad
    Insanely fantastically smart, poignant, and funny (when called for) short stories. James McBride has considerable range as a storyteller and this collection of stories proves that point. I hadn't read Mr. McBride in a while and this collection reminded me, hot damn! the Man can write. Highly recommended!
  • Blue
    Listened via LeVar Burton Reads podcast. (Bonus (#12.5?))Enjoyed the slice-of-life and the writing that did well to give an impression of exploring a new world - an insular community shunned by those outside and therefore ignoring them in return. I dropped a star for the ending. The interview with the author after the story ended up confirming the worst interpretation of the ending, leaving it hollow and me wondering if the end was solely for sho...
  • Liza Fireman
    I loved the beginning of this book, it was intruiging, well written and I hoped that this time James McBride will win me over. But exactly like in The Good Lord Bird, he lost me quite quickly. Actually I didn't even know that it is a book of stories. And I am most of the time not a fan of stories. Few make them awesome (I can mention the exceptional Alice Munro for the millionth time), but the most, just don't. I liked the beginning, the first st...
  • Tim
    The first story was best but predictable. The remaining stories were too depressing for my tastes. 3 of 10 stars
  • Bkwmlee
    3.5 starsWhen it comes to fiction books, I tend to prefer novels over short story collections, as I like being able to spend a good amount of time getting to know a character(s) and immersing myself into their story. With short stories, especially ones that feature different characters in each story, this becomes a bit of a challenge – it usually takes a bit more effort and concentration on my part to really get into the stories and hopefully c...
  • Marlene England
    I’m a big fan of James McBride’s writing, so I had high expectations when I dug into the advance copy of FIVE-CARAT SOUL. And I was not disappointed. This is a stellar collection of stories brilliantly told as only McBride can tell them. I enjoyed every page.
  • Jen
    I listened to Levar Burton reading this, followed by his chat with the author about the story.Ok. (released a deep breath) Where to begin?The grand majority of this story was SO BEAUTIFULLY EXPRESSED. The words TOOK me to The Bottom. I could see and understand the characters. It was REAL. I had sympathy for all of the characters. There was humor, sadness, it was nothing short of amazing.And then that ending. And then the author's explanation of i...
  • Magen
    That was a story where I didn't see the ending coming. I'm torn between whether it served the story or was simply for shock value. I don't know how to rate it, so average felt about right. I was hoping the conversation between McBride and Burton at the end of this podcast would clear up why the story went in this direction, but it didn't really. Which is unfortunate.
  • BookBully
    Following up a National Book Award Winner can't be an easy task for any author. Luckily, James McBride delivers with FIVE-CARAT SOUL, a collection of short stories. Some stand on their own while others are linked. No matter, with possibly one exception (sorry, "The Moaning Bench") these are stories to savor and enjoy.Right out of the gate, I laughed out loud in several spots while reading "The Under Graham Railroad Box Car Set," the tale of a toy...
  • Chrysten Lofton
    5.0⭐ "Miss McIntyre Said To Tell You, ‘Get Somebody To Read This Who Aint No Relation To You.’" * Mild Spoilers* On this, the bonus installment of Sticher podcast's LeVar Burton Reads, we're gifted with a live reading of Goat by James McBride, followed by a great interview with Burton and McBride. I feel like everything I could surmise about this story was pretty much in that interview, it was a good one. McBride notes that this is a story...
  • Andre
    A new short story collection from the award winning author James McBride. This collection is interesting in that two of the stories stretch over five short chapters. The balance of the book contains standalone stories. The writing is always engaging, inviting and creative with a prose that is artistic. The book starts off with the Under Graham Railroad Box Car Set, a legendary railroad toy set supposedly commissioned by confederate general Robert...
  • Danny Cerullo
    James McBride is an author who wears his heart on his sleeve and that is an amazingly refreshing thing in a literary scene full of writers trying to out cynic each other. Five-Carat Soul is a collection of fairly simple stories with a ton of heart.
  • Betsy Gant
    Basically, I've realized that I'm woefully behind in my 2017 reading challenge. So now I'm adding every short story I've had to read this year for school. "Goat" is a good descriptive story. It's a riveting story with a disturbing twist at the end. I wouldn't recommend it. I think James McBride is a good author as far as modern authors go; however, I suppose the ending disturbed me enough to not rate this story any greater than 2 stars. McBride w...
  • Demi
    My book club picks some incredible books. This collection of short stories is marvelous—poignant and unexpected, culminating in a fable that left me feeling heartbroken and hopeful at once.
  • Nicoleen
    This is an amazing collection of stories. I especially appreciated the range of narration and vantage point in each story. Each one had a deep message, but often conveyed in a purely humanistic way. While I had the hardest time connecting with the final story, the pay-off was definitely worth it. A great read overall, 4.5 stars.
  • Grace Sanchez
    I don’t usually read short stories as a genre but I was thoroughly immersed in every story in this book. I especially loved Mr. P & the Wind. The author’s imagery, sense of place and voice are so enjoyable in this book.
  • Renee
    4.5 Some of the most poignant, insightful and unpredictable stories I have ever read; I enjoyed each and everyone one of them. James McBride has an unrivaled storytelling skill and meticulous eye for character and detail. I listened to this book on audio and the narrations were top notch.
  • Gary Moreau
    I don’t recall ever actually resorting to this description before, but the word “yarn” lingered in my thoughts continuously as I read this collection of diverse short stories. And even that doesn’t do them justice. They don’t so much have a beginning and an end in the sense that stories normally do. They are a launch pad for thought without deliberately promoting any particular intellectual or political agenda. It’s entertainment for ...
  • Marcos
    What a beautiful book! I cannot recommend Five Carat Soul enough to all my friends that love a good story, a good cry, and a sense of optimism that is missing even from some of the best novels out there. Think of Mark Twain, O'Henry, and Ernest Gaines getting together for a drink, and riffing on heartbreak, steeped in the coming of age blues. I cannot recommend these stories enough: "Goat", a beautifully rendered story of a young man in love with...
  • Kathleen
    I fell in love with McBride’s fiction while reading his National Book Award-winning novel, The Good Lord Bird, his tale about the zealot John Brown. This collection of short stories with their humor and humanity are gems in McBride’s distinctive style. There is the story regarding the Five Carat Soul garage funk band and a novella about a lion’s life in a zoo. There is the heartwarming story of the ‘The Christmas Dance’ about a young ma...
  • Vani
    Let me start with the ending... That reveal...phew! For me, this story is so familiar. It describes a lot of the stories I've heard about people living in poverty and the lack of opportunities to succeed in life. Sadly, even when there are opportunities, people's apathy combined with a lack of education keeps them in the cycle of poverty, generation after generation. This tale does what the best short stories do - leave y...
  • Susan
    Entertaining as all get out. McBride is a master of voice. My favorite story in this collection has to be the one narrated by a lion (named Get Along, Go Along) caged in a zoo. How does he get this to work? But somehow he does. Like all story collections, some are better than others, but the ones that work best shine. Enjoyable.
  • Lisa
    Nope for the plottwist.