leslie nikole
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leslie.nikole at icloud dot com


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When I was still writing my series of short stories Year of the X, I sort of had no idea what I was doing in terms of writing short stories. Yes, we all do at some point write them in school, but I don't think I'm crazy to assume that there is a difference between the kind of story you give to your high school English teacher and the ones you put in a collection you're about to self-publish. I don't know what brought me to Danzy Senna's collection You Are Free, probably Goodreads, but it was the only collection of short stories that I didn't get to before publishing. I'm sure that if I had read Senna's collection in between my writing sessions, many of the stories would have been a lot different.

I have no idea how Senna's other books are written, but You Are Free is written quite captivatingly. The characters Senna creates scatter between upper middle class in suburbia to struggling young adults in the middle of Brooklyn, and are all mixed. I think it's quite interesting that either at least one character in each story is of mixed heritage or in some sort of mixed heritage/interracial relationship, especially since Senna's Where Did You Sleep Last Night? well-received memoir broke down her own experiences as the mixed heritage child, a product of her parents interracial marriage.

In fact, now that I think about it a little harder, it might have been her short story "Lara" that was circulating Tumblr before it got to me. It's hard to pick favourites from Senna's collection. Each story had me running back at least two pages to make sure I didn't miss anything. Some made me laugh, others had me stuck and staring at the page like "wait...girl what?!" In the day and age that representation is not only important, but has a pushing demand for, Senna's collection is a great addition to a shelf that is looking for something quick and relatable. (Un)fortunately I've suggested all of the copies that were in my store, so I'm still waiting on more to come in so I can go back to recommending that people pick up this one if they're looking for unbridled voices of PoC along with This Is How You Lose Her by my love Junot Díaz. 

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