Cover Image: The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You

The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This short story collection took me a while to get into, but once I did - I really enjoyed these quirky but emotional stories. Maurice Carlos Ruffin has a wonderful voice. His prose is electric, heartbreaking, fiery, and very funny. He has a great sense of humor even when he writes about tough subjects like racism, poverty, and social class. "Ghetto University" is my favorite story. I liked how some stories were long, and some very short. It gave this collection a great balance. None of the stories felt draggy or unnecessary. All stories center around the start of the pandemic, and the setting takes place in New Orleans. I hope to read more from this author in the future. 

Thank you, Netgalley and Random House for the digital ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Stories that capture the richness and complexity of the people of New Orleans that could only be told by a native. Reading some of these stories, I found myself thinking about the tourist consumption of New Orleans and what is left in the aftermath. In certain stories the idea of tourism is on the periphery and the social commentary is nuanced. I felt sadness and longing mixed with hope and aspiration as characters attempted to navigate the challenges of their situation. However, the spirit of the people of New Orleans is undeniable and if anything can be taken from this book, it's that.
Was this review helpful?
<b>The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You</b> is a collection of short stories set in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  The main characters are all Black, but like the diaspora they come from a multitude of experiences and Ruffin is quite adept at showing the reader how distinct and special each character is.   In the title piece a young male prostitute is offered a chance to leave the streets of the Big Easy and go live in Idaho.  He appreciates that the john is upfront with him and doesn't pretend to have feelings.  There is some honor in this in that he has come into this life to feed his younger siblings and has been lied to and taken advantage of far too often.   

All of the stories are about surviving and "making a way out of no way".  Despite the characters' different hustles, there is no condemnation or morality plays.  Life just is what it is.  This wide range of stories deal with such topics as BLM, the LGBTQ+ experience, respectability politics, gentrification . . .    Also here is mention of the Covid 19 pandemic.  It was weird seeing this play out in the stories while presently living it.  I must say it felt a bit surreal.

Although <b>The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You</b> is not a satire like We Cast A Shadow, Ruffin does play around with a little irony in some of his stories like "Ghetto University" where a couple who have resorted to nefarious means to come up with their rent falls prey to another.

This story collection is clever and evocative.  Every characters reads authentic. Each story, whether 1 page or 40, is a moving experience.  Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the real f-ing deal.
Was this review helpful?
reviewed Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel We Cast A Shadow, so I was interested in reading his follow-up collection of short stories, The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You. I remembered really enjoying We Cast a Shadow, and there were a great deal of feelings and thoughts about the meanings and messages in this novel. This collection of short stories has a different message than We Cast A Shadow. The story lengths vary from standard short story length to stories less than a page long, but each of them have a great deal to say.

The backdrop of this collection is New Orleans. When I think about this city, there are many things that make it unique. The way that tourists treat it like Las Vegas (coming in to party and not much else), and how there is a definitive split in New Orleans. Post-Katrina New Orleans will never be the same as Pre-Katrina New Orleans. Most of these stories show a city that is years later still trying to recover and rebuild. This city as a setting for this collection really brings another dimension to the decisions and motivations of the characters. Many of the characters are showing the same drive to recover and rebuild, even when the means to do so no longer exist. The struggle of people of color and people without money to impact their lives and make better for themselves is a universal story, and does not need a particular setting, but having the backdrop of New Orleans give these characters another layer, as if it does not need to be told that most of these characters have lived through losing absolutely everything.

In the final story of the collection, “Before I Let Go”, the main character, Gailya, is trying to save her house in a neighborhood that is going through gentrification due to the abandonment of a great deal of the neighborhood post-Katrina. She states that the changing of her neighborhood is not just a white and black issue but a money and power issue as well. I can see the money and power theme in all of these stories, how those without are trying to get enough to get some of the power back in their lives that they lost when they lost everything in the hurricane. Some of the characters rob, some of them sell their bodies, some of them just hustle harder to try to save a little to get ahead, but the main thing all of them are doing is trying to get back some of the power that they lost when the storms came.

Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s story collection using New Orleans as a backdrop has great impact. All of these characters are desperate in a way that you feel for them and want them to turn the corner, find their luck or their power and get back to where they deserve to be. You cannot read through these stories without hoping for a good outcome for all of them, but you can also respect that Ruffin writes the stories in a way that lets you know that not everyone is successful because that is the way the true world works.

I received this as an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I'm very picky about my short story collections, but this was excellent! The sense of place was absolutely unbelievable. Any from New Orleans, that wants to go to New Orleans, or loves New Orleans should 100% pick this up.
Was this review helpful?
Individually these stories pack a punch to the gut, and together I would dare to say that this collection is masterful! I really enjoyed Ruffin's first novel, which is why I was interested in reading and reviewing this story collection. I can confidently say that all of my expectations were met or exceeded!
Was this review helpful?
The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You by Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a fascinating short story collection that provides snapshots of unique fictional lives in New Orleans. The stories are captivating, sometimes funny, sometimes touching and poignant. I especially loved Ghetto University, which features a professor who has resorted to mugging tourists as he struggles to find adequate employment. I loved the backdrop of the city and momentous events in its history, from the 1800s to 2020. Overall, a mesmerizing collection of short stories.  

Thank you One World / Random House and  NetGalley for providing this ARC.
Was this review helpful?
This is a slim but powerful collection of short stories all set in New Orleans.  In most, the protagonist is struggling with finances in a city which doesn't treat them well.  That's not to say that this is depressing because there's a strand of positivity here.  Some of the stories are more snapshots than full blown stories but that doesn't mean they won't resonate.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A writer new to me but one I'll look for again.  Short story fans should take note.
Was this review helpful?
I appreciate the chance to read an advance copy of this book. I read only 9 stories before setting it aside, only because I don’t think I will be able to give these stories a fair evaluation at this time. I need some lighter reading. These stories are powerful and unflinching. 

I enjoy Mr. Ruffin’s writing; I recommended We Cast a Shadow to a number of people and look forward to his next book.
Was this review helpful?
A collection of short stories that are in no way enjoyable or thought provoking.  Give this book a pass.
Was this review helpful?
Maurice Carlos Ruffin returns after his fantastic and provocative debut novel "We Cast a Shadow" with a collection of several short stories that highlight life in New Orleans in "The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You". In this collection, he portrays life among individuals struggling to make it in the city. Because most of the stories are very short, one gets more of a "mood" of the characters, than investing in individuals stories/plot points. We encounter portrayals of felons trying to reintegrate into society, sex workers trying to find another line of income, the survival tactics individuals employ in order to survive, and the rise of the gig economy. Seeing COVID portrayed in some of the stories was jarring, but this is to be expected as blue collar/essential workers are most affected by it. All of these stories lend themselves to a timely and moving character-driven portrayal of life in New Orleans. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House One World for the advance reader copy in exchange for honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Maurice Carlos Ruffin wrote the memorable dystopian satire "We Cast a Shadow," and when I saw he had a book of short stories coming out, I was eager to read it. "The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You" takes the reader to New Orleans, where we jump into the lives of people living on the margins of a city ravaged by Katrina and plagued by inequality. Some stories are brief. In "Fast Hands, Fast Feet," we meet a girl without a home or anyone to look out for her. Others, like "Before I Let Go," linger a bit more and let the reader see the characters' pain -- and their joy. The one that I'll be thinking about months from now is "Ghetto University," in which a professional couple on the brink of financial ruin turn to petty crime as a way to raise some quick cash. The stories fly by, making this a great read, whether you want to sit down with the book and take it all in or pick it up and put it down, savoring the individual pieces.
Was this review helpful?
He has the range! Equally great flash fiction and regular short stories all over the map (but not literally because they're all in New Orleans) that are without fail clever, touching, or more often both. The title story is so good, "Catch What You Can" I'm obsessed with, and there's not a clunker to be found.
Was this review helpful?
This is a collection of slice of life stories, stories in which you step inside a life for a moment in time and don't always know what a final resolution will hold no matter how dire that character's situation.  And these people are all in dire situations.  I was in awe of Maurice Carlos Ruffin's novel, We Cast a Shadow.  It haunts me as will these stories.  Some of which are less than a page but which are so finely drawn you feel you've seen these people first hand.  Set in New Orleans post-Katrina and forward (there are even those addressing presentday pandemic and Black Lives Matter), the denizens of the Ninth Ward try keeping their families together, some against inhuman odds.  Whether it's a father returning home after a "stay" in Angola trying to find work or a woman doing every job possible in the gig economy in order not to lose her home that has been in her family for three generations due to escalating taxes thanks to gentrification of her neighborhood Treme, or a young tapper in the tourist section, every single story is proof of resilience and hope.  Kudos.
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely loved this collection. So rich depth and emotion. The author being from New Orleans brings such a wonderful authenticity to this story, and you can really tell how much thought and care went into crafting it. I loved that so many topics were touched on, and they all somehow managed to feel new and fresh. My two favorites were The Pie Man, because I loved the examination of class structure and familial ties; and also Rhinoceros, because it felt to current and relevant without being re-traumatizing. Highly, highly recommend this collection.
Was this review helpful?
THE ONES WHO DON'T SAY THEY LOVE YOU,  by Maurice Carlos Ruffin, is a collection of short stories that look at issues of race, status, bigotry, loyalty, and desperation.  New Orleans is the backdrop for all of the stories, and Ruffin uses the grit and determination of the people of New Orleans to force readers to contemplate life in other people's shoes and what in means to be looked at in a different light than what the reader is used to.
  I really liked the balance of all of the stories.  Some short and some longer, some were lighter and left me smiling while others brought me to tears.  I felt like the book was a study how people in all walks of life get by in New Orleans.  Some get lucky, but most come up against relentless and sometimes insurmountable hurdles to find any sort of success or even just upward momentum.  There isn't a bad story on the lot, but my favorite was "Ghetto University".  It looks at the effects (or lack thereof) of getting an education.   It also turns the perception of race on it's head.  That story left me considering how I look at education, status, and race in my every day life.
   THE ONES WHO DON'T SAY THEY LOVE YOU will stick in my head for a while and I look forward to more stories from Maurice Carlos Ruffin.  An excellent read and one I won't soon forget.
Was this review helpful?
I loved Maurice Ruffin's novel We Cast a Shadow and I was super excited to read this one too. Ruffin's ability to tell a story in so well crafted; it immediately draws you in. This is work that is not to be missed. Ruffin is a hidden gem, hopefully for not too long.
Was this review helpful?
Maurice Carlos Ruffin has created a book filled with characters that have no intention of being forgotten. His stories are compelling, highlighting a side of New Orleans most tourists don't see. His characters present a commentary on race that slices through the rhetoric and deftly describes their experience of being Black. In "Ghetto University", you'll meet a highly educated, out of work Black man who turns to mugging tourists to get by. He doesn't use a weapon, because as he puts it, he has "a face and a body that are, in a sense, weaponized". 

"Token" may be the most powerful 561 words ever committed to paper - an exhausting list of dos and don'ts that brings into sharp focus the things asked of Black people that are not asked of others. ("Don't let them connect you to any of those who look like you, because one of you is desirable, but more than one of you is a rebellion".)

I finished "The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You" several days ago and I'm still thinking about these people Maurice Carlos Ruffin has brought to life on these pages. They are multi-dimensional, with problems and histories and loves and worries and lives all their own. Spend some time with them and you'll see what I mean.
Was this review helpful?
I would call Maurice Carlos Ruffin a New Orleans culturebearer on the basis of this stunningly beautiful collection of first person stories. Ruffin has the ability to get inside his characters and bring us with him, so that we walk around in the shoes of others for a page or fifteen. Men, women, boys -- he is able to capture the voices and worlds of each, and he chooses to embody characters many of us -- both visitors and more privileged residents of New Orleans -- are likely to overlook in our day-to-day. "The Ones" is a collection, but the world Ruffin creates is a whole, has a sense of humor, and, above all, comes from his city. It is deeply authentic, truly soulful, and not to be missed. I am awestruck by his talent, and his characters will live with me, going forward.
Was this review helpful?
Maurice Carlos Ruffins’s short story collection is rooted in and about New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  These are desperate times for desperate people resorting to desperate measures.   Most are doing their best to survive sacrificing their dignity, pride assuming any and every menial job available in hopes of making enough to care for themselves and their loved ones. 

Some of the stories are less than a page (Zimmerman, Spinning) but are weighted with just as much sentiment, melancholy, and depth as the longer pieces.  Some of my personal favorites were the title story, The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You, where a young, neglected foster child resorts to a debasing profession to feed his siblings.  Beg Borrow Steal features the return of a boy’s father from prison and the havoc that ensues as he looks for employment.  Ghetto University examines respectability politics when a college professor and his chemist wife lose their esteemed positions and face eviction.  

While unemployment and despair recur throughout many of the stories, there is still hope and determination to rebuild, reclaim, and maintain the city’s spirit and the love of its inhabitants. This collection has heart! Well done!
Was this review helpful?