Get e-book Break Any Woman Down: Stories by Dana Johnson (Flannery OConnor Award for Short Fiction)

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Dana Johnson was different. Take the title story, "Break Any Woman Down. A stripper named LaDonna falls for an actor in third-rate porn films.


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He makes her stop stripping and get an office job but they spend their free time watching his films in a never-ending loop of sex that always ends the same way whether what you see on the screen is the real thing or a substitute, like glue. In the collection, the other stories I like best are the first and last, "Melvin in the Sixth Grade" and "Markers. In the first story we meet the child Avery, new to the suburbs and in love with an outcast white kid named Melvin.

The last story is Avery at 28, living with an older Italian man in a posh house on an L. On a hot day, late to prepare for a dinner party, Avery gets lost driving her mother to the food stamp office.

Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

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Not available in stores. In Break Any Woman Down , Dana Johnson explores race, identity, and alienation with unflinching honesty and vibrant language. Hip and seductive, her stories often feature women discovering their identities through sexual and emotional intimacy with the men in their lives.

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In the title story, La Donna is a black stripper whose white boyfriend, an actor in adult movies, insists that she stop stripping. In "Melvin in the Sixth Grade," eleven-year-old Avery has a crush on a white boy from Oklahoma who, like Avery, is an outsider in their suburban Los Angeles school. Dana Johnson has an intuitive sense of character and a gift for creating authentic voices. She effortlessly captures the rhythmic vernaculars of Los Angeles, the American South, and various immigrant communities as she brings to life the sometimes heavyhearted, but always persevering, souls who live there.

Break Any Woman Down by Dana Johnson

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