This first collection of short stories is marked by rich, highly sensual language. The stories exhibit a layering of themes: the complexities of relationships; exploring racial, class and generational boundaries; the abuse of children; the hunger for love and connection. The stories move from lesbian life in Boston in the the 1950s to a contemporary erotic encounter to a futuristic fantasy about the mystical experience of a woman having a full body tattoo done.
"Seven traditional short stories, a fantasy novella and a new short story about the black lesbian vampire Gilda make up this sexy, eclectic collection. Often set in the Boston area, the more traditional stories feature women (usually of color, usually lesbian) brought together by friendship or desire. In the title story, a Boston waitress in the 1950s gets to serve her idol, Billie Holiday, then later bonds with a potential new lover over their mutual admiration for the singer. Fluidly written and briskly paced…these stories demonstrate an impressive, wide ranging imagination."
—Publishers Weekly, June 15, 1998
"Fantasy prevails in Jewelle Gomez's DON"T EXPLAIN, a stunning set that includes "Houston" in which the heroine of the author's GILDA STORIES returns."
—The Advocate, Holiday pick November 10, 1998
"Novelist, poet and essayist, Gomez, now brings out a memorable first collection of short stories. The futuristic, all-too-plausible "Lynx & Strand," in which the government is a corporation, satirizes at the same time the theories of behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner and the anti porn legislator Catherine MacKinnon. Grace A. is Gomez's tribute to her own great grandmother, Grace, a stern-seeming Wampanoag-African American, reluctantly yet dutifully caring for her great granddaughter. Gomez's women are savvy and bold, with a sense of ancestry and hipster, and they forge deep connections to other women. Eroticism infuses their daily a activities, but although these women are passionate, they rule their lives with their heads. The author's compassion, affection and respect for her characters is infections. Recommended for all fiction collections."
—Library Journal, June 15, 1998
"Jewelle Gomez is a real storyteller, maybe one of our best. She can take a moment and weave it into something extraordinary. In her latest collection of short fiction, Gomez travels the well-worn paths of erotica and vampires and coming out in ways that make those plots new and important and hugely entertaining. In "Grace A." Gomez uses subtle indicators to reminder her readers of the racism that lurks below the surface or rages above. In "Lynx & Strand" she combines Eros and the forbidden art of the tattoo to create an image of arts as revolutionary act that is utterly compelling. DON'T EXPLAIN fills the mind with wonder while it enriches the soul and enlivens the spirit."
—Bay Area Reporter
"Award-winning author Jewelle Gomez is a master storyteller. Her newest book of short fiction pulls you gently into the world her characters inhabit; once inside you'll find yourself entranced by her lyrical prose."