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Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self Paperback – Bargain Price, September 6, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The territory Evans covers in her debut collection may be small, but she owns it. Her main characters are almost all teen girls and young women who struggle with disorder, and the reader is given close access to each one's interior, from which the muted plots originate. "Jellyfish," one of the better stories, starts out with the plight of middle-aged William, whose roof has just collapsed, before settling on his adult daughter, Eva, and examining her life. The two friends in "Virgins," the opening and best story, maneuver unsteadily through the minefield of casually predatory men and boys. "Snakes" looks back on a consequential summer in the lives of two little girls. "The King of a Vast Empire" is the biggest departure from form and is narrated by good son Terrence, who frustratedly tells the story of his free-spirited sister, Liddie. The stories are beautifully observed, though their similarities in theme and voice make them better read individually than together. Evans has some great chops that would really shine with a little more narrative breadth.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Evans’ first collection of short stories deals thoughtfully and incisively with considerations of class, race, and coming-of-age. That six of the stories are told in their female or male protagonists’ first-person voices brings them immediacy and emotional resonance. Sometimes, though, this device results in narrative voices that sound too much alike while the stories they tell lack thematic originality. Interestingly, two of the best stories—“Someone Ought to Tell Her There’s Nowhere to Go,” about a deeply troubled veteran of the Iraq War, and “Jellyfish,” about the fraught relationship of a young woman and her father—are told in third person. Yet, whether told in first or third person, what all of the stories share is a demonstration of the profound influence of the past on the present-day lives of their characters and the intricacies of relationships among African American, white, Hispanic, and mixed-race young people. Clearly, Evans lives up to her reputation as an important new voice in literary fiction. --Michael Cart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; 7651st edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594485364
  • ASIN: B0085S0X56
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,275,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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. There are other collections with one story that packs a punch and a bunch of others that miss the mark. And then there are collections in which every single story is new, fresh and self-contained.

BEFORE YOU SUFFOCATE YOUR OWN FOOL SELF is the third type. Each of the eight stories in Danielle Evans's debut collection is completely unique. What's more, each features characters and situations that are so real and true to life that I almost felt as if I was a part of them.

The first story, "Virgins," features two teenagers discovering what it means to be women earlier than perhaps they should. Originally published in The Paris Review, it may appear to be the average story of a young girl getting into a tough scrape, but what's different about it is the intelligent voice. Erica, the narrator, has a wisdom that she doesn't know she possesses and begins to discover it throughout the story.

"Snakes" is a discussion of family, the biracial experience, and the process of growing up. There is some part of the story for any reader to identify with, regardless of what personal qualities he or she shares with the narrator. It takes shocking turns and plays with race perception; when we are first introduced to the narrator's grandmother, knowing whether she is white or black requires a double-take. Evans's ability to play with the nuances of race in "Snakes" and other stories is reminiscent of Toni Morrison's treatment of the issue in "Recitatif."

"Harvest" is unexpected, although it shouldn't be.
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Format: Hardcover
Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans
This is collection of 8 short stories is Evans fictional debut. Now if you are thinking to yourself "I don't like short stories" this book isn't for me. Trust me when I say, you're wrong. I haven't always liked short stories. A few years back I finally read a collection that made me appreciate them. Before that I was reading incomplete short stories, with endings that left me far from satisfied.

These stories are short, though very far from incomplete. With most collections there is always one story that is not up to the standard of the others. That was not the case here, I loved every single story. Evans manages to make what could easily be sad stories very funny. Between the laughter, I was moved by these quietly complex and beautifully layered stories.

The dialogue and language are perfect. The characters fully developed. Like all good short stories, there is no excess, every word count. I loved each story from beginning to end.

Evans pretty much crushed this collection. Her transitions to move the stories along were clinic good. I always try to keep my vernacular proper. So when I start straying from the true Webster definition that means I loved a book hard.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like many of the other reviewers, I am not particulary fond of short stories., therefore I almost missed the opportunity to read this well-written and interesting book of short stories by Danielle Evans. Ms Evans debunked my theroy that short stories are often times incomplete and leaves the reader yearning for closure and/or clear message.. In Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (gotta love the title), the stories are entertaining and unique in that the stories are independent and did not seem to all belong to one novel.

My favorite stories were Virgins, the coming of age story of Erica and Jasmine. In their 15th summer, a difference in how their virginity is viewed separates the pair. Snakes, a story of a young girl who spends the summer with her grandmother and cousin. This summer arrangement proves to be a diffiuclt one and perhaps an arrangement that should not have happened. Finally, Robert E Lee is Dead, the class nerd and the most popular girl becomes best friends. Is it loyality or gratitude that keeps this friendship going? Does one have to dumb themself down to maintain a friendship? How far do you go for a friend?

I think Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self is a good book to pick up. I only named thre of the stories, but there are 5 others that may pique your interest.

Jeanette
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"I didn't feel anymore like being myself was something for which I owed the world an apology."

That brilliant quote, ladies and gentleman, is from Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. Specifically from my favorite story, Robert E. Lee is dead. I related to this story the most, because I too felt ostracized for being the smart black girl and quiet. All of the stories were great and really made you think about life, the human condition and how our view on life greatly affects how we live.

At first I was under the impression that these were essays by different people on their experiences, until I see the "this is a work of fiction" disclaimer. I couldn't believe one person, Danielle Evans, was able to tell eight different stories that felt so real. Even if I personally didn't go through what each character went through, I empathized with them so greatly.

One thing I noticed in review for this book were about the endings. Yes, not every ending was clear or the story had a lot of ambiguity, but life is all about no clear ending. And you don't immediately get a happy-ever-after. You have to overcome personal hurdles before you get that luxury just like the characters in this book.

Every story in here is interesting and really makes you think about the people in your life and how the characters deals with their problems and makes you wonder: would I do that? Have I? Will I?

I was feeling, feelings reading this book! I'm so glad I gave this a chance. It's a great coming-of-age book, for all races. I'm sure many adults will be reminiscent of their adolescent or new adult years while reading.
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