One Story At a Time: Harvest

15 Dec

Whenever I see ads by infertile couples looking to buy the healthy eggs of a young woman, I wonder what that must be like, as a woman, to have your eggs harvested and used by someone else. In “Harvest,” the third story in Danielle Evans’s Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, a group of black girls attending Columbia University watch from the sidelines as their white peers sell their eggs and live lavish lifestyles for college students. These girls are confronted with the frustrating reality that their eggs, their children, are largely unwanted and lacking in value on the proverbial open market. As with most of the stories in this collection, there is a real elegance to how Evans approaches the complicated issue of race and class without overwhelming the story with a social agenda.

One of the highlights for me was the narrator’s voice—a young woman coming of age and still very young in some ways. For example, in describing herself and her friends, she says, “What we wanted was to be a doctor, a lawyer, a spy, and happy.”

There is an interesting tension in this story as the narrator, Angel, and her friends grow apart from Laura Kelso, one of their white friends, a girl who was working class, but by selling her eggs quickly found herself distanced from the girls with whom she could once relate.

I don’t want to give the story away but the ending of “Harvest” is quite powerful and in its way, a bit shocking. As with Crystal in “Robert E. Lee is Dead,” Angel is forced to make difficult choices in difficult circumstances before she can truly understand the consequences. And yet, there’s something in this story, an undercurrent, that gives me the sense Angel understands the consequences of her choices at the end of the story quite perfectly and that possibility, is all the more chilling and that possibility makes this story all the more interesting.

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2 Responses to “One Story At a Time: Harvest”

  1. christopher. December 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    I’m really glad you’re doing this feature Roxane. I really need to check this book out.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. In which I arrive glamorously late for Short Story Month. « Danielle Evans - May 25, 2011

    […] I’d be remiss here if I didn’t also thank Roxane Gay for her smart considerations of Harvest and Robert E. Lee is Dead over at Vouched Books a few months […]

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