Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans

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Synopsis

Introducing a new star of her generation, an electric debut story collection about mixed-race and African-American teenagers, women, and men struggling to find a place in their families and communities.

When Danielle Evans's short story "Virgins" was published in The Paris Review in late 2007, it announced the arrival of a major new American short story writer. Written when she was only twenty-three, Evans's story of two black, blue-collar fifteen-year-old girls' flirtation with adulthood for one night was startling in its pitch-perfect examination of race, class, and the shifting terrain of adolescence.

Now this debut short story collection delivers on the promise of that early story. In "Harvest," a college student's unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront her own feelings of inadequacy in comparison to her white classmates. In "Jellyfish," a father's misguided attempt to rescue a gift for his grown daughter from an apartment collapse magnifies all he doesn't know about her. And in "Snakes," the mixed-race daughter of intellectuals recounts the disastrous summer she spent with her white grandmother and cousin, a summer that has unforeseen repercussions in the present.

Striking in their emotional immediacy, the stories in Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self are based in a world where inequality is reality but where the insecurities of adolescence and young adulthood, and the tensions within family and the community, are sometimes the biggest complicating forces in one's sense of identity and the choices one makes.



 

About Danielle Evans

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DANIELLE EVANS is a graduate of Columbia University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review, A Public Space, and The Best American Short Stories 2008.
 
Published September 23, 2010 by Riverhead. 243 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

Kirkus Reviews

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In “The King of a Vast Empire,” a young man who is talked into a risky road trip with his college-coed sister recalls how shaped they both were by a childhood car accident that destroyed the structure of their family, while leaving it externally intact.

Jun 14 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

The New York Times

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Lydia Peelle is the author of the story collection “Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing.” A version of this review appeared in print on October 24, 2010, on page BR11 of the Sunday Book Review.

Oct 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

The Wall Street Journal

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But Mizzy also reminds Peter of his gay brother, Matthew, who died of AIDS but survives in Peter's mind as a symbol of the mysterious link between beauty and mortality.

Sep 25 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

Book Reporter

There are some collections of short stories that read as if they’re all the same character, and they’re only called “short stories” to keep the author from having to tie the chapters together logically.

Dec 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

Entertainment Weekly

B+ See all of this week's reviews Originally posted Sep 08, 2010 Published in issue #1120-1121 Sep 17, 2010 Order article reprints

Sep 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

Dallas News

Danielle Evans' debut story collection examines the lives of young black people in contemporary America and does so with a ringing authenticity in eight moving, funny and insightful tales.

Oct 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

PopMatters

African-American and mixed-race youth characters aren’t necessarily commonplace in literary fiction, but Danielle Evans’ debut short story collection significantly fills that void.

Dec 07 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

Bookmarks Magazine

Danielle Evans burst on the short-fiction scene in 2007 as a talented young voice with the publication of her story "Virgins" in The Paris Review.

Sep 12 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

Oprah.com

An impressive collection of stories centered on the achingly believable problems of African-American teenage girls and young women.

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Full Stop

“It was the day after Tupac got shot,” the narrator informs a few lines down, before delivering the first line of dialogue: “‘Sunscreen,’ Jasmine said, ‘is some white people shit.’” The matchless story that follows is called “Virgins,” and it’s about teenagers—some technically virgins, some not—...

Jan 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

Washingtonian

But by story’s end—when, in response to the same cousin’s failed suicide attempt, Tara visits the hospital and offers her a place to recover—we can’t be sure whether she was pushed or, as she ponders, might have jumped (“less afraid of the fall than what else I thought awaited me”) and let her co...

Oct 27 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

Campus Circle

If Danielle Evans had a thesis in mind when she penned the eight stories in Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, then it must have been this: All relationships come with an expiration date.

Nov 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

APOOO Bookclub

Admittedly, I am typically not a fan of short stories because too often I find myself wanting more at their conclusion;

Aug 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Before You Suffocate Your Own...

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