Break Any Woman Down

Stories by Dana Johnson


"The stories in Break Any Woman Down are sexy, beautiful, and electric. Dana Johnson inhabits her characters' lives with sympathy and grace, giving voice to a chorus of non-Hollywood Los Angelenos. Through their stories, these characters reveal their hearts to us and . . . we see our own. This is an exciting and gorgeous literary debut."
—Jonathan Ames, author of The Extra Man

"A wonderful collection of vivid tales told in fresh voices, Break Any Woman Down showcases Dana Johnson's gift to render with authenticity a range of ages, nationalities, and perspectives with a verve that leaves the reader wanting more."
—Janet McDonald, author of Project Girl

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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.

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. "Markers" is as much about a woman's relationship with her mother as it is about the dissolution of her relationship with an older Italian man.

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.

Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Page count: 168 pp.
Trim size: 5.25 x 8


List price: $19.95

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Dana Johnson is an associate professor of English in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Elsewhere, California: A Novel.