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In the Not Quite Dark: Stories

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  16 reviews
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 roa ...more
Paperback, 225 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Counterpoint
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
3.5 Stars

I hate rating collections. Especially collections like THIS, where some of the stories are legit fantastic and some are meh.
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This collection starts strong and ends stronger, but the stories in the middle have a vacuous quality about them. Well, there are only eleven stories in all, most centered in and around Los Angeles and touching on race, relationships and issues of class. The work is very readable and the prose is sparse in a good way. Stories "Rogues " and "The Story Of Biddy Mason" are standouts, and "Two Crazy Whores" kind of typifies the collection. Characters confronting their present and the past, and deter ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the not so quiet Dark

Rogues -I liked the Characters. I can really see the relationship between Kenny and JJ. I feel like I knew them. The neighborhood came to life for me. She did a great job putting me right smack in the middle of it from the gate. What are we willing to overlook to get what we need?

Sunshine- Ah, young stupid love. I’ll find myself thinking of ex boyfriends and think “what were you thinking”? I guess that’s why they call them growing pains. I actually liked Bobby. He was jus
Keith Rosson
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There's hardly a misstep in this thing. A searing, funny, tough as hell collection that explores race, class, sex, family and geography. Big questions are tackled without seeming cloying or overwrought. Voice and dialogue are terrific, and I wish I could write about my city with the same vacillating combo of love and detachment that Johnson writes about Los Angeles. Recommended. ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a solid collection that I found pretty impulsively readable (as in, I would start a story and then just read the whole thing.) Almost all of them are about tough choices and shitty relationships, so, you know, life.

The weakest link for me was probably the title story, but, overall, I liked all of the stories--probably because they all have that thread of loneliness and melancholy throughout. However, the collection isn't without hope as the last story is super forward looking while cele
Brittany Allen
I loved this collection. Dana Johnson is funny, lithe, original, and the stories assembled here contain such a love letter to Los Angeles--possibly the only book that's made me feel like I want to see downtown LA. Had the rare scrummy feeling of reading characters that remind me of me/my family/people I grew up. "The Liberace Museum" was a standout (yessss to this articulate depiction of interracial relationship anxieties) and I also adored "No Blaming the Harvard Boys" and its wander-y hazy par ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I endlessly adore Dana Johnson's work because she keeps introducing us to Black women we don't see anywhere else: awkward middle-class ones dating white boys and feeling conflicted about it, strippers in a literary context, gentrifiers. There's always some twist I wasn't expecting, which makes me both admiring and envious of Johnson's talent. ...more
Morgan Miller-Portales
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
‘In the Not Quite Dark’ by Dana Johnson is a superb collection of short stories. Set mostly against the backdrop of downtown LA, in all its grittiness and myriad changes, it triumphantly portrays the complexities of race, womanhood and LA, whilst delving ever deeper into the definition of history and our place in it. The type of stories that would inspire any writer to write. Stunning.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: los-angeles
Bleak. The main character of each story is profoundly alone in the not quite dark.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Some stories fell flat for me but overall I loved the SoCal motif and racial interplay.
Ben Bush
Nov 03, 2020 added it
Shelves: read-in-2020
These were great. Skillful, funny, uncomfortable, surprising, thought-provoking. You couldn't ask for a better guide to downtown LA and the Inland Empire. ...more
Emma Burcart
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best story collections I've read in a long time. ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“I bet you: You’ve seen too many movies, and you believe what those movies tell you about yourself. You think they’re mirrors.”
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Review to come in LA Times
Not Mark
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it

Great collection of short stories set on the West Coast. Stories that range from body issues, to race, to gentrification, and much more.

Stories that stuck out for me were Rogues, Sunshine, and The Liberace Museum.
Arlene S
Oct 24, 2016 marked it as to-read
This title mentioned in interview in LARB (Los Angeles Review of Books)
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