Review: before you suffocate your own fool self: stories, by Danielle Evans

If this debut is any indication, Danielle Evans has a very bright literary future ahead of her. Her stories express not only a young woman’s frustration with the problems of racial and social inequities, but also the honest way in which the void of adolescent insecurities often overpowers even the most serious of those adult-world inequities.

The transparent honesty of Evans’ writing is refreshing. So often the literary world is confronted with jaded authors who, amid their arguments for equality, have lost their sense of self. One also encounters the occasional indignant writer for whom the sorority of adolescence is a mere effect of racial and socioeconomic inequities. What we have here is an expression of the sadness often generated by youth, and what is born of that sadness…who it makes us as we become young adults, and what we bring with us to shape our future.


Review: The Toy Collector, by James Gunn

As the screenwriter of films like Dawn of the Dead and Tromeo & Juliet, one would kind of expect James Gunn to be kind of a nut. His freshman novel, The Toy Collector (Bloomsbury, 2000) certainly seems to back up that assumption. I don’t want to lay too much blind credence in assumptions involving this trippy, grim, sexual foray into the effect of childhood trauma (after all, it is The Toy Collector, a novel not The Toy Collector, James Gunn’s all-inclusive autobiography) but I have often found that authors are often like serial killers—the first kill is usually someone the killer knows or, in the author’s case, it’s usually what they know, what they’re most comfortable with, that which is most easily accessible. And in this case at least, Mr. Gunn has named his narrator after himself—whether or not that makes him a reliable narrator is another thing.


Posthumous Publishing

Since it came up in my review of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 I wanted to talk a little bit about posthumous publishing. Bolaño’s is a special case: he was racing against his death to get as much work done as possible, while also providing for his heirs. There was never really a question of whether or not his work would be published after his death, but more of a question of how it would be published.

As mentioned, Bolaño wanted to release 2666 in five installments, over a number of years; his heirs felt otherwise. They knew, as well as I suspect Bolaño himself knew, that it was a more impactful work as one whole unit. Their decision to publish as such is a decision best benefiting the art, rather than their pocketbooks. (As a side note – our friend Roberto’s corpse has 3 or 4 other planned pieces in the works, due out over the next few years).