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You Are Free: Storiesby Danzy Senna
Synopses & Reviews
A century after her birth, Tillie Olsens writing is as relevant as when it first appeared; indeed, the clarity and passion of her vision and style have, if anything, become even more striking over time. Collected here for the first time are several of Olsens nonfiction pieces about the 1930s, early journalism pieces, and short fiction, including the four beautifully crafted, highly celebrated stories originally published as Tell Me a Riddle: “I Stand Here Ironing,” “Hey Sailor, What Ship?,” “O Yes,” and “Tell Me a Riddle.” Also included, for the first time since it appeared in the 1971 Best American Short Stories, is “Requa I.”
In these stories, as in all of her work, Olsen set a new standard for the treatment of women and the poor and for the depiction of their lives and circumstances. In her hands, the hard truths about motherhood and marriage, domestic life, labor, and political conviction found expression in language of such poetic intensity and depth that its influence continues to be felt today.
An introduction by Olsens granddaughter, the poet Rebekah Edwards, and a foreword by her daughter Laurie Olsen provide a personal and generational context for the authors work.
"Senna (Caucasia) moves into short fiction with a mixed bag of eight stories dealing with race, identity, and motherhood. Though the protagonists are largely defined by race and gender, the issues they grapple with are diverse: an inner conflict over whether to send a child to private or public school; a lonely woman's decision to be cruel to a stray dog; the emotional fallout from a neighbor's divorce. One of her longest stories, 'The Care of the Self,' is also one of the most memorable. It begins with the reunion of two close friends whose lives have taken radically different paths. Livy always played the comically tragic single sidekick to Ramona, whose life was the picture of connubial bliss. Now in seemingly opposite positions, with Ramona divorced and Livy a happily married mother, it becomes increasingly obvious that the image people project of their lives is not always accurate. This collection plays to Senna's strength at portraying mixed-race identity with subtlety and grace. Though the pathos and poignancy sometimes strains credibility, Senna excels at conveying emotion with a powerful restraint. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the bestselling author of Caucasia, riveting, unexpected stories about identity under the influence of appearances, attachments, and longing.
Each of these eight remarkable stories by Danzy Senna tightrope-walks tantalizingly, sometimes frighteningly, between defined states: life with and without mates and children, the familiar if constraining reference points provided by race, class, and gender. Tensions arise between a biracial couple when their son is admitted to the private school where they'd applied on a lark. A new mother hosts an old friend, still single, and discovers how each of them pities-and envies- the other. A young woman responds to an adoptee in search of her birth mother, knowing it is not she.
About the Author
"Danzy Senna trains her gimlet eye on the intersection of race and family life, and the result is a richly nuanced, often funny, always provocative work of art."
"Danzy Senna's probing and marvelous stories delve into the deepest layers of the human heart and psyche, all while showing us a multi-colored, multi- flavored, and most importantly multi-layered world to which we all--lovers, mothers, nomads, strangers--could easily belong."
"Danzy Senna's stories are beautiful examples of deceptive simplicity, which of course isn't simplicity at all. The tales are seductive, lucid dispatches from contemporary life, but the undercurrents are electric and strange, and go on working changes on you after the book is closed."
"Searingly smart and profoundly satisfying ... These women and men are palpable and so well wrought that one loses the sense that one is reading a book."
"One hell of a book."
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