Mean

Mean Review

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 ourselves from boredom and from those who would cut off our breasts. We act mean to defend our clubs and institutions. We act mean because we like to laugh. Being mean to boys is fun and a second-wave feminist duty. Being mean to men who deserve it is a holy mission. Sisterhood is powerful, but being mean is more exhilarating.

Being mean isn't for everybody.

Being mean is best practiced by those who understand it as an art form.

These virtuosos live closer to the divine than the rest of humanity. They're queers.

Myriam Gurba is a queer spoken-word performer, visual artist, and writer from Santa Maria, California. She's the author of Dahlia Season (2007, Manic D) which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, Wish You Were Me (2011, Future Tense Books), and Painting Their Portraits in Winter (2015, Manic D). She has toured with Sister Spit and her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. She lives in Long Beach, where she teaches social studies to eighth-graders.

Title:Mean

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Hannah

    This was absolutely stunning. The only reason this was not quite a five star read for me was because it took me about 60 pages to find my rhythm with this book (and the book is not particularly long)....

  • MariNaomi

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

  • Kevin

    A wild, sometimes messy sandwich of a book. Almost like if Kathy Acker tried to write a true crime book. The beginning and end focus intensely on rape and trauma and the middle is more of a scattersho...

  • 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...

  • 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 ...

  • Mel

    I don’t think I’ve ever been so uncomfortable, enraged, and yet so enthused and sometimes giggly at a memoir as dark as this one. Written in an often poetic style in fits and bursts of brutality a...

  • Joseph

    Review on my website!...

  • Elise Karlsson

    "German Jewish toker, hiker and intellectual Walter Benjamin wrote an essay titled 'Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting.' In it, he describes his musty zeal, intoning that 'every passio...

  • 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) w...

  • Lisa

    What a great memoir—it's all voice, but it's an incredibly strong and engaging voice, honest and brutal and super funny. /there were so many good moments of recognition about the ways the exterior w...