By Thom Geier
September 08, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

B+
type
  • Book

This striking debut collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self offers rich slices of African-American life. In the bittersweet ”Virgins,” two 15-year-old Bronx girls yearn to be more grown-up while preserving something of their innocence. In ”Snakes,” a mixed-race Yale law student milks childhood encounters with her insensitive white grandmother (”It was the sort of thing that made a person interesting in college”). Even overly workshopped stories are bolstered by memorable images (of an ex-boyfriend’s platinum blond? fiancée: ”If her look was a smell, it would be grape bubble gum”). Evans’ book, meanwhile, carries a strong scent of freshness and promise. B+

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