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A young girl who cruises gay men under the pier at Long Beach... Don’t you want to know what happens next?
Myriam Gurba was one of my favorite discoveries during the my Best American Erotica days. A Chicana lesbian writer and performer from East L.A., Myriam happens to be a great beauty, but I had no idea about that when I first published her. I wondered when I read her first story, "Is she six? Sixteen? Sixty?" Gurba is ageless, an amazing writer. Join the fan club before it gets too crowded!
Dahlia Season not only contains the title novella, a story about a goth dykling and her adventures being shipped off to Catholic High School— and then to Mexico— but Gurba's most acclaimed short stories as well!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Gurba's storytelling is concise, freakishly blunt and refreshing. Twisty, in that comedy stories end up horror. She mixes sex, blood, religion and race in a thrilling way that provokes, offends, and draws laughs out loud. At least, that was the effect on this WASPy hetero- cis- male. Her characters' struggles with OCD are hysterically funny, exciting, kinda sad and depressing.
As a high school teacher myself, I judge her descriptions of a diverse urban California public school campus to be spot-on. I felt deepening empathy with my own Latino and LGBT students as she developed her characters . I'm from the same home town as the author, and found myself giddily decoding her pseudonyms ("Babcock College"- jajajaja!), and swelling with pride simply because I knew about the cliffs, the dunes, and the trashy Speedway that serve as settings for her awkward and pushy characters who end up saying and doing exactly what I thought they might and hoped they wouldn't. Her descriptions are uncanny. Also, "Santa Bonita" isn't a big city; what if her characters are based on people I know? They were so well written, I just decided that they are, and I assigned them accordingly in my head. It made the book extra fun.
Gurba has a broad linguistic foundation that comes out here in sharp, street-ish code switching and authentic California Spanglish. I appreciate her brisk, potent style. She fuses subcultures, settings and scenes (Gay, Goth, Latino, Catholic High School) in a snazzy synthesis that puts a cherry right on top of the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy. I hit the "back 30 seconds" button over and over to see what other meanings I could extract from a phrase or passage.
And speaking of the audible version, Marisol Ramirez's narration was a perfect fit. She nailed numerous nuanced accents, from New Yorker to Chola to St. Mike's white girl to Mexican Mom. Specifically, I remember one scene early in the book, when someone's little sister said "Shut Uuuuuuuup!", rising slowly from a low pitch and then falling at the second syllable, a clear warning to butt out of the conversation. I know that "Shut up" well, because over the decades many Chicanas have told me exactly that.
Well done, homie.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful