The Sorcerer's Apprentice:Tales and Conjurations by Charles Johnson
I found this collection of stories randomly at a used book sale at a cafe. It was a real find!
Johnson opens his stories in such a matter-of-fact way that I had to read on. In "Menagerie, A Child's Fable," he begins, "Among watchdogs in Seattle, Berkeley was known generally as one of the best" (p. 43). "China" begins, "Evelyn's problems with her husband, Rudolph, began one evening in early March..." (p. 63). "Popper's Disease" starts out, "I visit my patients frequently, particularly those on farms like Anna Montgomery" (p. 127).
What are the stories about? Race is an issue, but they are all so different thematically. For example, "China" focuses on a late middle-aged husband's discovery and then pure devotion to martial arts and meditation, to the dismay and fear of his wife. It is incredibly well done. "Menagerie, A Child's Fable" examines the animals in a pet store who are left unattended when the owner fails to return. The conversations amongst the animals are comic and tragic, mirroring those of humanity.
Some of the stories left me a bit perplexed, particularly "Popper's Disease" and even the final one, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." A second reading may help to decipher more.
What a great discovery this was!