Mean by Myriam Gurba

Mean

Myriam Gurba's debut is the bold and hilarious tale of her coming of age as a queer, mixed-race Chicana. Blending radical formal fluidity and caustic humor, Mean turns what might be tragic into piercing, revealing comedy. This is a confident, funny, brassy book that takes the cost of sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia deadly seriously.We act mean to defend ou...

Title:Mean
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Mean Reviews

  • M.

    I reviewed this recently for 4Columns -- here's an excerpt:

    "“Being mean makes us feel alive,” Myriam Gurba writes in her new book, the memoir Mean. “It’s fun and exciting. Sometimes, it keeps us alive.” Rooted in her experience growing up a queer mixed-race Chicana in a world structured by whiteness, straightness, and misogyny, Gurba’s particular meanness is confrontational, deliberate, and very, very funny. She goes for the throat, then bats the reader playfully on the head."

    More here!

    I reviewed this recently for 4Columns -- here's an excerpt:

    "“Being mean makes us feel alive,” Myriam Gurba writes in her new book, the memoir Mean. “It’s fun and exciting. Sometimes, it keeps us alive.” Rooted in her experience growing up a queer mixed-race Chicana in a world structured by whiteness, straightness, and misogyny, Gurba’s particular meanness is confrontational, deliberate, and very, very funny. She goes for the throat, then bats the reader playfully on the head."

    More here!

  • Genevieve

    A wry, searing book about growing up as a queer brown girl in California in the 80s and 90s -- and about sexual assault. If you loved

    when you were 14, and now you're 30 and have some idea of how much more cruel the world can be, read this. It's very funny and very dark and very smart and very real and will tear you into little pieces.

  • Verity Sturm

    Myriam Gurba’s Mean is a powerful, creative, uproariously candid memoir of a woman between a slew of extremes. Set in the heat of California and adolescence, Mean bluntly unveils the racism, sexual violence, and homophobia braided into a queer Chicana’s coming of age–flavors of hatred that have taught Gurba the vital art of being mean. Featuring art, ghosts, true crime, and a whole lot of black humor, Gurba’s floating prose and topic matter (like herself) refuse to submit to any one genre or for

    Myriam Gurba’s Mean is a powerful, creative, uproariously candid memoir of a woman between a slew of extremes. Set in the heat of California and adolescence, Mean bluntly unveils the racism, sexual violence, and homophobia braided into a queer Chicana’s coming of age–flavors of hatred that have taught Gurba the vital art of being mean. Featuring art, ghosts, true crime, and a whole lot of black humor, Gurba’s floating prose and topic matter (like herself) refuse to submit to any one genre or form. Mean is a generously honest and refreshingly real ownership of the unjust, bound to challenge readers to recognize the vectors of oppression potentially woven into their own lives and face them with appropriate meanness.

  • MariNaomi

    Hilarious and brutal. This is a must-read. I mean, damn!

  • Maureen Stanton

    Gurba has such an original voice, playful and poetic and raw, which works for most of this intriguing memoir. On occasion, the style intrudes (i.e., echolalia-type free-association moments which become just distracting). But overall, a richly layered non-linear narrative by a writer whose voice captivates and carries the reader along.

  • Jenny Shank

    Dallas Morning News, November 1, 2017

    "Art is one way to work out touch gone wrong," Myriam Gurba writes in her invigorating memoir Mean, which in part addresses the harrowing story of her assault at age 19, and her rumination about the other woman the attacker went on to rape and kill before he was caught. But Gurba's artistic sensibility is so fresh, her wit and observational skills so acute, that she defies all expected tropes and story structure. The result is the opposite of a victim's accou

    Dallas Morning News, November 1, 2017

    "Art is one way to work out touch gone wrong," Myriam Gurba writes in her invigorating memoir Mean, which in part addresses the harrowing story of her assault at age 19, and her rumination about the other woman the attacker went on to rape and kill before he was caught. But Gurba's artistic sensibility is so fresh, her wit and observational skills so acute, that she defies all expected tropes and story structure. The result is the opposite of a victim's account. Instead, it's a powerful portrait of the formation of a bold artist of Mexican and Polish heritage (she calls herself a "Molack"), growing up in a California town near Neverland Ranch. Gurba describes an elderly lady whose company she enjoys: "She had that thing some elders develop where they compulsively narrate their youth while offering real talk a young person would censor." Gurba herself never censors her real talk as she casts her fierce, funny gaze on Michael Jackson, anorexia, race, Montessori school, college professors and more. Nov. 7.

  • Kate Olson

    This book blew. me. away. One minute I was cringing away from the graphic descriptions of sexual assault and the next I was chuckling at the brilliant word play Gurba throws down. This is one of those books that make me feel like I'm not quite cool or smart enough ~ it humbled me and had my brain whirring in overdrive. Hands-down the best book on rape culture I have ever read, but it breaks my heart that I need to have a favorite book about rape. It also covers race, gender, sexuality, feminism,

    This book blew. me. away. One minute I was cringing away from the graphic descriptions of sexual assault and the next I was chuckling at the brilliant word play Gurba throws down. This is one of those books that make me feel like I'm not quite cool or smart enough ~ it humbled me and had my brain whirring in overdrive. Hands-down the best book on rape culture I have ever read, but it breaks my heart that I need to have a favorite book about rape. It also covers race, gender, sexuality, feminism, and culture in an unflinching, and at times hilarious, way.

    This one isn't for the faint of heart, but it is a must-read. Thanks to Coffee House Press for the complimentary review copy.

  • Nina

    Not only is this a visceral and honest and take on life after assault as a mixed woman of Mexican and Polish descent, this is also a project of power reclamation. As she reclaims her body and takes on the reigns of her sexual power, the author also takes control of the readers: how we see her, how we are attracted to her, what we can and cannot learn of her.

    I am in awe of my newest ancestor, Myriam Gurba.

  • Judith Taveras

    Amazing!

    Thought provoking, provocative, semi-autobiography. I really appreciated how she addressed sexual assault in this book. For women, one of the main challenges of talking about sexual assault/harassment, is trying to get men to understand how constant it is in our lives. How through social conditioning we become so accustomed to first being seeing as an object to criticize, prod, and possess. Sigh.

    Anyways, I really like Myriam's writing style. So raw, so honest, so beautiful.

  • Macartney

    Gurba tells us, the readers, over and over how mean she is (ie, unkind and characterized by malice). The book shows her to be anything but. Instead, she's a mean writer (ie, excellent and effective) who has written a mean novel (ie, vexatious; causing trouble or bother) whose words mean (ie, to signify; to intend to convey) something big, particularly in this #metoo moment. What does it mean to be marked as different, whether by sexuality, gender, race or assault? How can you make your story mea

    Gurba tells us, the readers, over and over how mean she is (ie, unkind and characterized by malice). The book shows her to be anything but. Instead, she's a mean writer (ie, excellent and effective) who has written a mean novel (ie, vexatious; causing trouble or bother) whose words mean (ie, to signify; to intend to convey) something big, particularly in this #metoo moment. What does it mean to be marked as different, whether by sexuality, gender, race or assault? How can you make your story mean something? What does it mean to (be) mean? Great questions, and Gurba pointedly refuses to answer them all. This is an angry, punk novel with a heart and reminded me strongly of WE WERE WITCHES. If these two novels represent where publishing is in 2017, count me in!

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