Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

Author: Danielle Evans
Genre: African American; Short Stories
Publish Date: Sept. 23, 2010
Pages: 155
Rating: 3 out of 5


Now this debut 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.

When Danielle Evans's short story "Virgins" was published in The Paris Review in late 2007, it announced the arrival of a bold new voice. 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.
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.

Suffocate is a collection of short stories about the Black experience in America.  Every story dealt with a sensitive and taboo subject (especially within the African American community). Virginity, abortion, and post traumatic stress disorder are just a few of the subjects Suffocate discusses.

Some of the stories (Snakes, Harvest, Someone Ought to Tell Her There's Nowhere to Go), are spectacular. As with most short stories, you are left with a sense of longing. You're left wanting more. You NEED to know how the character that you fell in love with ends up.  However these stories left you with just enough.  You're able to fill in the blanks and make up your own ending (and chile with my vivid imagination I need a book club ASAP).

On the other hand, the other stories were less than desirable.  Not only were the endings cliffhangers, umm they really didnt have a clear beginning. Let's see if I can explain this better.....
Ok imagine after a stressful week at work all you want to do on Saturday is chill on your couch and watch movies. You have everything in place Netflixawineacomfy sweatsaThe first movie you watch is the BOMB! Then you pick another movie (that Netflix "suggests" of course), but something is wrong with the stream. It starts in the middle of the movie. Being optimistic (I mean the Netflix gods did say you would like this movie), you continue to watch the movie. After about 45 minutes, you are really getting into the movie. You've figured out the plot (or so you think) and can't wait to see how it's going to end. And then you get  the dreaded "We're sorry you've lost connection. Would you like to try again?"

Yeah so the point of that illustration (I told ya I have a vivid imagination):  Suffocate (other than the afore mentioned septacular stories) is pretty much like that bad movie that messed up your movie night.  There isn't a beginning. There isnt an ending. There is just enough of a "story" to wet your appetite and then leave you hanging.

Sooooooo *in Kevin Hart's daughters voice* who would I recommend this book to? Anyone who has a short attention span and can never seem to finish a book. If you  make it to the middle of a book and then get distracted by life, or if you take years to finish a book than Suffocate is the book for you. 

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