Synopses & Reviews
"Unquestionably excellent stories... In the Not Quite Dark has a variety of voices and stylistic tones yet holds together tightly as a collection." — Los Angeles Times
Following her prize-winning collection Break Any Woman Down, Dana Johnson returns with a collection of bold stories set mostly in downtown Los Angeles that examine large issues — love, class, race — and how they influence and define our most intimate moments. In "The Liberace Museum," a mixed-race couple leave the South toward the destination of Vegas, crossing miles of road and history to the promised land of consumption; in "Rogues," a young man on break from college lands in his brother’s Inland Empire neighborhood during a rash of unexplained robberies; in "She Deserves Everything She Gets," a woman listens to the strict advice given to her spoiled niece about going away to college, reflecting on her own experience and the night she lost her best friend; and in the collection’s title story, a man setting down roots in downtown L.A. is haunted by the specter of both gentrification and a young female tourist, whose body was found in the water tower of a neighboring building.
With deep insight into character, intimate relationships, and the modern search for personal freedom, In the Not Quite Dark is a powerful new work that feels both urgent and timeless.
"Newer than tomorrow, the stories in In the Not Quite Dark illuminate the travails of contemporary life faced with aspects of gentrification — social, economic, racial, even sexual. Johnson is the poet of the uneasy place between rising and falling, the pressures of status and humiliation, the precarious moral footing we are all navigating now. A sharp edged portrait of Los Angeles, and ourselves." Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint it Black
"This prizewinning author’s gorgeous, empathetic collection is composed of stories (mostly) in and about L.A. (the perfect place for musings about gentrification, discrimination, and love) that juxtapose the haves and the have-nots." Marie Claire
"An insightful collection of stories that paint diverse portraits of present-day Los Angeles… the themes of race, perspective, and history carry through. Eleven poignant stories that look to the past to portray the present." Kirkus Reviews
"Johnson’s (Elsewhere, California) superb short story collection features well-drawn characters, vivid descriptions of Los Angeles, and nuanced reflections on money, race, and family. The stories stand alone, but they share preoccupations, and sometimes settings… This is essential reading for Angelenos, Californians, and anyone interested in masterly, morally engaged storytelling." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
About the Author
Dana Johnson is the author of Break Any Woman Down, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the novel Elsewhere, California. Both books were nominees for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is an associate professor of English at the University of Southern California.