Review: Before you Suffocate your Own Fool Self, by Danielle Evans

This book is a collection of eight short stories with the unifying element of young, African-American or mixed race characters trying to find their way in modern American culture.  When I read short stories, inevitably some affect me more than others; this book was no exception.   The best of this bunch were:

  • Virgins: two 16-year-old girls, tired of small-town life, go clubbing in New York City and find themselves growing up a little too fast.
  • Snakes: Tara, a mixed race girl, spends a summer with her white grandmother and cousin.  She finds herself in the middle of long-standing family tension, and one small but dramatic act results in years of emotional pain.
  • Someone Ought to Tell Her:  Georgie, recently returned from Iraq, offers to babysit his ex-girlfriend’s daughter when her regular childcare arrangements fall through.  The arrangement fills an emotional void for both Georgie and the daughter, but ultimately results in a difficult conflict.

Unfortunately, in a couple of stories I found glaring factual inaccuracies which detracted from the author’s credibility.  Sometimes this completely ruins my reading experience.  In this case, I loved Evans’ voice, and her ability to quickly create pictures of her characters in my imagination.  I’m sure we will see more from this promising young author.

5 thoughts on “Review: Before you Suffocate your Own Fool Self, by Danielle Evans

  1. I picked this one up from the library and am looking forward to it. I’m glad to know there are some that shine brighter than others (all too common in collections, I find.) Thanks!

    • That is a common “thing” with short stories. But still, every time I read a short story collection I think, “I really should do this more often” !

  2. I haven’t read this particular collection, but I do understand the sense of responding more dramatically to some stories rather than others in collections. But just as with novels, I’ve been surprised to find that sometimes that very stories that I’ve thought were “just fine” are the ones that some other readers seem to love. Perhaps it just makes sense, for if someone handed us a stack of eight novels by the same author, we would warm to some more than others, even if we did admire their author generally speaking.

    • That’s an insightful comment, BIP! I absolutely agree I’d have the same reaction to a stack of eight novels, so I guess I should just accept that a collection of short stores would be similar.

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