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Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self av…
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Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (urspr publ 2010; utgåvan 2010)

av Danielle Evans (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3874149,857 (4.09)30
Fearless, funny, and ultimately tender, Evans's stories offer a bold new perspective on the experience of being young and African-American or mixed-race in modern-day America.
Medlem:nancyjean19
Titel:Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
Författare:Danielle Evans (Författare)
Info:Riverhead Books (2010), Edition: First Edition, 240 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:****
Taggar:recommendations

Verkdetaljer

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self av Danielle Evans (2010)

  1. 00
    Drinking Coffee Elsewhere av ZZ Packer (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: short stories with interesting and varied black characters
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Visa 1-5 av 41 (nästa | visa alla)
A standout collection. I read The Office of Historical Corrections first, then came back to this. Will read whatever she publishes next.

Quotes

Epigraph:
I am sick
of having to remind you
to breathe
before you suffocate
your own fool self
-Donna Kate Rushin, "The Bridge Poem"

I had been given this secret knowledge too early to know what to do with it. ("Snakes," 45)

...we knew what we were right then: people too small to stop the things we didn't want to happen from happening anyway. (50)

...I tell stories the way I need them to be and not the way that they actually happened. (55)

He had been told so much and become so accustomed to his own opinion not mattering that at the critical moment he seemed not to know what his own thoughts on the matter were and couldn't finish his sentence. ("Harvest," 77)

A place to go whenever she needed it, but where she'd never feel good about being. ("Jellyfish," 163)

...the house feels like a museum of lack: here is the sort of love you never saw up close, here are souvenirs from all the places your father was when he was not with you, here is something whole that one day you will own a fraction of. ("Wherever You Go, There You Are," 173)

I'd always thought the whole world was just a bigger version of Lee High School - a line running down the middle of it and people on either side telling me that I didn't really belong there. ("Robert E. Lee Is Dead," 217) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 24, 2021 |
An excellent short story collection, I highly recommend this! I enjoy short story collections in general, and this one is exceptional. The voice is very different from story to story, which I enjoy. Some stories feel devastating. All of them are quite moving. ( )
  JCanausa | Feb 1, 2021 |
This book has a collection of 8 short stories. These are the following: "Virgins," "Snakes," "Harvest," "Someone Ought to Tell Her There's Nowhere to Go," "The King of a Vast Empire," "Jellyfish," "Wherever You Go, There You Are," and "Robert E. Lee is Dead."

If I have to pick my favorite short story I think I am going to have to go with "Robert E. Lee is Dead." That's because the main protagonist of that story reminded me of my school days as the "smart one" in my high school. It was tricky for me, and just like the character of Crystal though I was seen as a sort of anomaly. I was smart (straight As for all subjects, except math which was usually around a B depending) but since I played volleyball and did track and field so was also considered a jock and so wasn't teased for being a nerd. Believe me I got called a nerd a lot since I liked to read and most of the time I had a book in my hands. I also started looking into Wicca culture and for a time thought I would run off and be a pagan living in the woods with nothing but books. My mother was not impressed with my plan.

"Virgins" deals with a young woman who is in that awkward stage of almost being an adult who realizes that there are degrees of being truly safe with a man. This story really made me sad. Reading about this young girl and her best friend Jasmine, who is so fired up to be grown up and fall in love reminded me of my best friends when I was growing up. I think we thought that when you fell in love or had sex for the first time with someone that automatically meant that you were grown up. Instead having sex brought it's own problems, especially when you realized that the person that you thought loved you and was going to be with you forever. (5/5 stars)

"Snakes" is about a young mixed race girl Tara who goes to stay with her maternal grandmother in Tallahassee. "Snakes" actually broke my heart a little bit. You have Tara dealing with the fact that her parents are away for the summer and she is being forced to stay with her grandmother who is trying to force her to be white. Tara's hair comes up constantly in this story and her grandmother treats Tara as if she's beneath her when she compares her to her cousin Allison (also staying for the summer) and uses the threat of snakes in a nearby body of water to get Tara to behave as she wants her to. Reading the story as Tara recollects that summer and having it go back to the present day where Tara is about to graduate from law school was really good.

I think I liked "Snakes" the second best out of the short stories because it reminded me a lot of some divides I dealt with while growing up. Though both of my parents were African American, both sides of my family had mixed races as well. We had Native American, Chinese, Caucasian, and even we found out later that some of the Caucasian branches of the family tree were Jewish. Though I am light skinned, there were still day to day harassment I had to deal with from school kids and even members of my own family for being too light. I used to lay out all summer to get darker so I would fit in better. In my brain, it was not good to be light skinned and I used to envy all of my family members who were darker since they fit. The number of times I got told I looked and talked too white are numerous, and I did my best by trying to blend in as well as could be expected. Is it any wonder that I started to lose myself in books? (5/5 stars)

"Harvest" is about a college student named Angel. This story for me didn't work as well as the other ones. There seemed to be two different story-lines going on. We have Angel talking about a suite mate named Laura who ends up making a ton of money by donating her eggs to wealthy couples who want to have a baby. Then we have Angel talking about her other suite mates as well and you find out a lot about them. I think that the main premise of this story was that Laura and Angel were not that different since Laura we find grew up poor. Her latest foray into expensive clothes was new to her. I also didn't like Angel that much since she seemed to take perverse pleasure out of being mean to people. (3.5/5 stars).

"Someone Ought to Tell Her There's Nowhere to Go" is about a young man named Georgie returning from his tour in Iraq. We find out that Georgie had a bad experience in Iraq that has stayed with him. He comes back to Alexandria, VA hoping that he can re-connect with his ex who has moved on. Georgie starts to tell white lies which unfortunately cause a bigger problem than he wanted. I felt badly for Georgie in this story. I know tons of my friends' who returned from deployment and expected things to go back to the way that they were before they left. All signs are shown to Georgie that his ex, Lanae has moved on. However, he refuses to believe it, and I think the act he does is to show that he is somehow better than the man that Lanae chooses to be with now. (5/5 stars).

"The King of a Vast Empire" is about a college student named Terrence and his dysfunctional family. I feel the same way about this story that I do "Harvest." I don't know what I was supposed to take away from it. I did find that Terrence and his sister Liddie were kind of horrible to their parents. Liddie's disdain comes from a car accident that the whole family was in when she was younger. Terrence just seems to be floating through life with no clear aim. There is another plot interwoven into this, but I don't want to give too much away. (3.5/5 stars).

"Jellyfish" is about a father and daughter who are both thinking the other one has a sad and lonely life. What I found sad is that the father, William, realizes that his daughter, Eva, is on the same life path he is and will end up alone with no one in the end if she doesn't change her ways. I thought the whole story was bittersweet and sad in the end because you realize that not much is going to change for either of them. (5/5 stars).

"Wherever You Go, There You Are" is about a woman who finds herself on a road trip with her younger cousin, visiting her ex-lover and his new fiancee. I really did feel sorry for the main character whose name I don't recall is ever said. She is dealing with a break-up and trying to figure out what she is going to do with her life. Without realizing it, I think she's on the same sort of trajectory her mother is on, though unlike her mother, she has an in-between man she always runs back to you when her other relationships end. The ending of the story really did leave me with the same feeling I got when I read, Frank Stockton's short story, The Lady or the Tiger when I was younger. The story has two potential endings I think. I won't spoil them for you. (5/5 stars)

"Robert E. Lee is Dead" is about a teenager named Crystal dealing with being smart and black in the south. Crystal, due to her being friends with one of the more popular girls at her school named Geena finds herself for the first time ever not looking in at what the cool kids so. Due to Geena, Crystal who becomes known as 'CeeCee' ends up straddling two worlds. Being in the honors/gifted classes as well as being popular. When an opportunity emerges for Crystal there is a temporary estrangement from Geena who Crystal starts to realize is on a different path in her life than she is. (5/5 stars)

I have to say that all of these short stories were so very well done. I think I have written before that those writers who can create a story with fully realized characters and manage to create a story around them is very much an art form. Not all writers that I have read are able to right short stories. I am always thrilled when I can find one that writes short stories that I enjoy to read. Ms. Evans actually reminds me a lot of Maeve Binchy. Only in Ms. Evans case, she is writing stories about African-Americans and mixed race protagonists. In Ms. Binchy's case she wrote short stories about the Irish in Ireland, or living in London or in the U.S. somewhere. I was so sad to get to the end of this collection and hope that Ms. Evans continues to write stories like these.

In the end though I rated two stories 3.5 stars, I gave the whole book 5 stars. I can see myself reading this for years to come. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
What a great collection! I'm excited to see more from this author. I think her novels in particular will be really good, as many of the stories felt like they could easily be expanded. She writes pitch-perfect dialogue and captured a wide range of experiences, which you don't always see in story collections. At the same time, some of the characters felt a little similar, with just their always-unique job descriptions tweaked. That was my main criticism of the book. The first story, "Virgins," was probably my favorite. I also really liked the closing story. Both were about teenagers -- I think she may write that voice the best. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
Totally enjoyable collection of short stories. However, I didn't feel like any of them hit on particularly challenging material. A good short story is definitely something to be cherished, and there were perhaps 1.5 in here. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
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I am sick of mediating with your worst self
On behalf of your better selves
I am sick
Of having to remind you
To breathe
Before you suffocate
Your own fool self.
--DONNA KATE RUSHIN, "The Bridge Poem"
I do not believe
our wants have made all of our lies
holy.
--AUDRE LORDE
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Fearless, funny, and ultimately tender, Evans's stories offer a bold new perspective on the experience of being young and African-American or mixed-race in modern-day America.

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