Chicana. Goth. Dykling. Desiree Garcia knows she’s weird and a weirdo magnet. To extinguish her strangeness, her parents ship her to Saint Michael’s Catholic High School, then to Mexico, but neurology can’t be snuffed out so easily: Screwy brain chemistry holds the key to Desiree’s madness. As fellow crazies sense a kinship with her, Desiree attracts a coterie of both wanted and unwanted admirers, including a pair of racist deathrock sisters, a pretty Hispanic girl who did time in California’s most infamous mental asylum, and a transnational stalker with a pronounced limp.
As high school graduation nears, Desiree’s weirdness turns from charming to alarming. Plagued by increasingly bizarre thoughts and urges, Desiree convinces herself she’s schizophrenic, despite assurance otherwise. In college, she finds Rae, an ex-carnie trannyboi, who becomes the June Carter to her Johnny Cash. With Rae’s help, Desiree answers the riddle of her insanity and names her disease.
Combining the spark of Michelle Tea, the comic angst of Augusten Burroughs, and the warmth of Sandra Cisneros, Mexican American author Myriam Gurba has created a territory all her own. Dahlia Season not only contains the title novella, but also several of Gurba’s acclaimed stories.
Myriam Gurba is a high school teacher who lives in Long Beach, California, home of Snoop Dogg and the Queen Mary. She graduated from UC Berkeley, and her writing has appeared in anthologies like The Best American Erotica (St. Martin’s Press), Bottom’s Up (Soft Skull Press), Secrets and Confidences (Seal Press), and Tough Girls (Black Books).
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
What would have made Dahlia Season better?
Any additional comments?
I kept waiting for something to happen. This book was very boaring, so mad I wasted my money on this.
Would you consider the audio edition of Dahlia Season to be better than the print version?
Not necessarily better but equally wonderful
What was one of the most memorable moments of Dahlia Season?
There were too many to count and it's hard to choose just one
What about Marisol Ramirez’s performance did you like?
Marisol Ramirez reads this book with impeccable timing and passion, it becomes almost hypnotic and completely addicting
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Any additional comments?
A perfect audiobook!
This book is heartbreaking and hilarious, with a touching vulnerability to it. If you don't love this book, you may very well be a robot.