Drown by Junot Diaz

Ten short stories about growing up first in the Dominican Republic and then New Jersey. It reminded me a litte of Sherman Alexie’s stories, albeit a little less poetic. But still very well done. We discussed “How To Date A Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie” at particular length in my fiction writing class, so I’ll quote one of my favorite bits from that story:

“Clear the government cheese from the refrigerator. If the girl’s from the Terrace stack the boxes behind the milk. If she’s from the Park or Society Hill hide the cheese in the cabinet above the oven, way up where she’ll never see. Leave yourself a reminder to get it out before morning or your moms will kick your ass. Take down any embarrassing photos of your family in the campo, especially the one with the half-naked kids dragging a goat on a rope leash. The kids are your cousins and by now they’re old enough to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.”

Junot Diaz was one of the guests at my college’s writers’ festival, and I got to hear him read from The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. The man is hilarious and if you ever get a chance to see him do a reading, you should probably go. The best part of the reading was the question-and-answer session at the end – someone asked him a really complicated question about his writing process or something, and he spent a minute trying to think of a way to answer that, and then he just laughed and said, “I don’t know. Um…fuck, you guys!” It was great.

Verdict: four out of five stars

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