Drown is most likely one of my favorite book of short stories that is not Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, or the like. The stories are scary enough without demons, vampires, or the down right strange. The stories are about what it is like to want to be free and not just free to be a United States citizen, but FREE, in all the ways the word can mean.
Perhaps that is too simple a summary for the collection, but it is part of the feeling I got while reading them. My favorite story in the collection is “No Face.” No Face is a young boy who the narrator never gives a name, he is just he. He is a fast runner for being slightly chubby. He races around town trying to stay hidden. He hides his face behind a mask, he doesn’t have one. Well, he does, but it was mutilated. He is grotesque.
However, there is an ugliness that surpasses No Face’s face. Within these pages the neighborhood boys catch him off guard and pelt him with rocks. They hold him down and beat him. They call him names.
No Face dreams of comic book hero that can make themselves invisible.
There is no happy ending to his story. There is no feel good moment. The reader is just left with a feeling of despair and a hope that No Face will keep running, that he will be able to someday escape.
Diaz, Junot. “No Face.” Drown. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996 p. 153 -160.