With dark, knife-in-the ribs humor and poignant glimpses of youth and early adulthood, Gwendolyn Zepeda’s first book is the literati’s version of television variety shows of the 1970s. Chock full of sharp observations in a narrative that jumps from personal essay to a parody of romance novels to inventive fiction, this collection spans a wide range of themes: the complications of being a “half-white child of hippies born in Houston in 1971” and raised in a largely Mexican barrio … “How to Be a Trailer Trash Housewife” … and a midnight dance with a giant cockroach.
Though her creations aren’t easy to behold, they are assertive, calling out Zepeda’s own lessons learned as she strives to hammer out a life. She writes in “To the Last Man I Slept with and to Everybody Else,” a variation on the title story, “You wanted to be the rock star, the ninja, the cowboy in black. I wanted to be with those people so I pretended they were you. But secretly, I have always been all of those things.”
Weaving her exploration of family life, love, the struggle for economic stability, and the search for a personal creative space, Zepeda’s brash voice cuts at society’s stereotypes, at once critiquing those around her and herself. Family, friends, and the unwitting strangers around her—no one is safe from her commentary.
Not for the shy or the meek, Zepeda’s bold ruminations ring clearly through all her pieces, whether tough dramatizations or tongue-in-cheek fiction. She debuts a voice worth hearing that challenges, “If you want to, you can watch.”