The Legend of Tanisha Biggers: Deluxe Edition is an anthology that brings two short stories and a novelette together to tell a larger, overarching narrative in three parts. Pinkney’s quirky sense of humor and timing makes for an enchanting reading experience.
In one sense, the Deluxe Edition of The Legend of Tanisha Biggers tells the story of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt Washington: past, present and future. In the short story Cardinal Rule, Teddy is in his physical prime, and he courts the sensually elusive Earline Jones. During a quick ice cream date, Teddy tries to draw in Earline with his raucous sense of humor. In the short story Swiggers, Teddy is old but still full of life. When he goes to his favorite hang out, the corner store known as “Pee Wee’s,” Teddy drinks liquor and crack jokes with his crew of old men while flirting with the pretty young things that walk in and out of the corner store. In the novelette The Legend of Tanisha Biggers, Teddy’s death causes ripples in the small pond of his community. Tanisha didn’t want Teddy teasing her while he was alive, and now she has to deal with rumors linking her to his untimely demise.
In another sense, the Deluxe Edition of The Legend of Tanisha Biggers paints a broader picture. It depicts a neighborhood that is disconnected from its rich history yet filled with people who have an undeniable flavor and spirit. Together, these stories uncover a remote community full of people who are beautiful and proud, harsh and unforgiving, misguided and confused, and in terms of Tanisha Biggers, powerful and focused.
Cardinal Rule: a short story (3,100+ words with a 850+ word Author’s Note)
What do you do when you’ve been there and done that – the good, the bad and the ugly? Meet Earline Jones, a woman who is easy on the eyes and hard on a man – when she loves him.
What do you do when you know who you love, but you don’t know how to express it? Meet Theodore Roosevelt Washington aka Teddy. When he falls in love with a woman, he hones in on her smallest details – and cracks jokes about them.
While enjoying a quick rendezvous, Earline and Teddy are consumed by three things: expressing what makes their hearts beat, sitting in red hot heat and eating ice cold treats. It quickly becomes an intersection between affection and reflection.
Swiggers: a short story (3,250+ words with a 1,900+ word Author’s Note)
Life-after-retirement for Theodore Roosevelt Washington (aka Teddy) centers around hanging out with the other rowdy old men in front of Pee Wee’s Market. Cracking jokes, drinking liquor and flirting with the young women may change for the crew now that the corner store is under new management.
In Swiggers, Teddy is the unofficial raconteur of the old men who have been hanging around Pee Wee’s Market since forever. What happens after the laughter when the new store owner doesn’t want them around?
The Legend of Tanisha Biggers: a novelette (12,875+ words with a 4,900+ word Author’s Note)
Two hundred of years ago, Black Haven was a sprawling town. Nowadays, Black Haven is an overpopulated, economically-depressed neighborhood. Against this backdrop, Tanisha Biggers is a twenty-something-nine-to-fiver aiming to move out of this small area.
Since her parents passed away, Tanisha has been content with being a loner. Tanisha keeps her daily routine simple. She goes to work, comes home, saves her money and stays focused on moving out of Black Haven. Her only friend in Black Haven is the loud and boisterous Vida. Normally, they smoke while Vida catches Tanisha up on the neighborhood gossip.
If having her named embroiled in a nasty rumor wasn’t enough, the gossip has caused her to become the target of the volitive women of the Lomax family. Between Tanisha’s fighting spirit, Vida’s ride-or-die loyalty and the Lomaxes aggressive behavior, an explosive confrontation is inevitable.
In Pinkney’s creative interpretation, the neighborhood of Black Haven is more than a mere metaphor of urban decay. It is a representation of the reality of many impoverished urban and suburban areas strewn across America. The rich histories of the proud people of eras gone by are mostly forgotten by their descendants. In the aftermath of destruction, a few shining souls, like Tanisha, strive to rise from the rubble.
Tanisha’s path through this story ultimately becomes an odyssey across land and through innerspace. In seeking the guidance of her deceased mother, Tanisha encounters a different world in her dreams made up of a hodge-podge of landmarks from Black Haven. At each stage of that journey, she gets closer to her mother. As Pinkney creates a fictitious neighborhood in modern-day America, his narrative seamlessly weaves the lives of unlikely best friends and their worst enemies into an entertaining literary adventure. The Legend of Tanisha Biggers, a spinoff of the short story Swiggers, is a kinetic tale of one woman’s unshakable confidence and an explosive portrayal of the strength we all share.
The Legend of Tanisha Biggers: Deluxe Edition is a 19,225+ word anthology. The volume also includes three Author’s Notes with a combined total of 7,650+ words.
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