REVIEW by Willard Manus
is a writer with a unique voice as befits her upraising: daughter of a
Polish father and a Mexican mother. Shes also bawdy, witty (a wicked
punster) and ferociously honest. Heres what she has to say about
her crack-smoking friend Ida: I didnt like her immediately.
She was too much like me. A cunt. A freethinker. A roamer.
Gurbas latest book, MEAN, is a kind of autobiography, but one that
deals deftly with the saga of her coming-of-age, dramatizing only bits
and pieces of it, the raw, important stuff. Shes essentially a comic
writer, but the comedy is always black, savage and uncompromising, the
result of having lived a life dominated by sexual violence and death.
Gurba was molested innumerable times, beginning in grade school by the
boy who sat next to her and continuing through college by one of her professors,
who, after having shoved her up against a wall and fingered her, asked,
Howd it feel to be diddled by a Jew?
Kosher, was her reply.
jokes dont cease, not even after shes been raped and nearly
murdered (by a fellow Mexican), but her soul will never be the same, the
darkness in it will never lift. She obsesses over the Black Dahlia story,
relates to it, even though the slain victim was white and she herself
is brown-or as she puts it more accurately, mud.
Being mud in a white, male-dominated world also makes you mean, as she
confesses, in that bold, defiant voice of hers. I want to be a likeable
female narrator. But I also enjoy being mean. I always get crushes on
people who are mean to me. Im mean, but Im not so mean that
Ive ever raped anybody. Ive never grabbed a strange woman,
pulled down her underpants, shoved my face into her pussy, and inhaled.
Thats a special kind of mean. (Coffee House Press)