Books by Dagoberto Gilb

Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"Gilb gets excellent mileage from simple elements. Though the men in these stories have common concerns, each feels distinct and alive."
Men struggle with old demons, attractive women and a persistent racism in the latest collection from Gilb (The Flowers, 2008, etc). Read full book review >
THE FLOWERS by Dagoberto Gilb
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

"Gilb's prose sometimes requires a glossary of the nonbilingual (or -trilingual), as with sentences such as, 'Los blacks aren't shorty indios como nuestra gente,' and his narrative moves toward a resolution that, like the world, leaves all sorts of loose ends hanging."
It's ten o'clock, mom's in her chones, and all's wrong with the world. Read full book review >
GRITOS by Dagoberto Gilb
Released: May 1, 2003

"Sometimes clumsy, sometimes incidental, but distinguished by honesty ('I think some people deserve to get their asses kicked'), bittersweet optimism, and plain good writing, these pages offer Gilb's fans—and they are many—much to admire."
Debut nonfiction from the noted Chicano novelist and short-story writer (Woodcuts of Women, 2001, etc.), who gathers essays and occasional pieces written over more than 20 years. Read full book review >
WOODCUTS OF WOMEN by Dagoberto Gilb
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

"Those who will find Gilb's stories slight might ponder this: So what are Cézanne's apples except daubs that float over the canvas? But marvelous, marvelous daubs."
Ten spare stories about Mexican Americans in El Paso and Santa Fe. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

A slight first novel by the author of last year's story collection The Magic of Blood, this details a few months in the lives of regular-guy Mexican-Americans firmly fixed in the here and now. Mickey, a Chicano rambler, comes out of nowhere special and is going nowhere else special when he checks into the El Paso YMCA; Gilb establishes him as an almost mythical working-class vato who can live on the nourishment of his half-fabricated past. Of his future, all Mickey knows is that he's expecting a check for some services rendered. As he gets a few odd jobs for drink money and begins to know his neighbors (a quirky bunch of characters, freakishly drawn), Mickey fights a psychological battle to keep his distance and his sense of self. His cronies include mild-mannered Sarge, a loner fixated on Big Macs and a private porn collection; silent Butch, whose few words come out like oracular utterances; Omar, who has tequila frenzies and an obsession with lost love; Blind Jimmy, a guitar-playing, emaciated street person who wears pink chiffon dresses and wishes he were an eight-year-old girl; Lola, the seen-it-all waitress, whose heart is eagerly sought after. Mickey's routine is thoroughly detailed, so much so that a ping-pong game gets five pages, a pool game ten. The sentences lunge after the Hemingwayesque satori: ``Mickey was simple in this: he wanted one truth that was, at least, true.'' Toward the end Gilb works up some plot tension concerning the whereabouts of the mysterious check, but it's too little, too late, drowned in a sea of Bukowskian, nothing-matters existentialism. The genuine Chicano dialogue buzzing over the lazy rec-room activities provides the draw here, but Gilb's overriding earnestness seems at odds with his characters' F.T.W. attitude. Read full book review >
THE MAGIC OF BLOOD by Dagoberto Gilb
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Twenty-six stories (eight previously published in Winners on the Pass Line, 1985—not reviewed) offering a frank, sympathetic view of working-class Chicanos in the Southwest. Many of these vignettes are set in Los Angeles, the author's birthplace—a world of freeways, building sites, and the myriad small miseries of those who eke out an uncertain existence in the construction trades. Workingmen are battered and often unemployed but stoic, like the family man in ``Look on the Bright Side'' who fights his landlady in court when she raises his rent illegally, refusing to be outwitted even in the face of eviction. Or they are resourceful in other ways, as in ``Churchgoers,'' where a construction worker keeps a low profile to avoid the building superintendent, who lets men go at the slightest provocation, until he meets his match in a street-wise killer named Smooth, who dares him to lay him off. Other scenarios include a comic encounter in Arizona between a tight-lipped but dedicated mechanic and a fussing, worried car-owner (``Al, in Phoenix''); a moment of salvation when two troubled strangers meet across a crap-table in Vegas and come away both wiser and richer (``Winners on the Pass Line''); and the title story, in which generations and distant relations of a family living on both sides of the border are bonded together by the magic of a great-grandmother's Hollywood address. Honest and sharply focused in portraying the dreams and realities of Mexican Americans today: Gilb's tales are best when depicting tradesmen at work and at play, but otherwise the magic is fleeting and slight. Read full book review >