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Dora: A Headcaseby Lidia Yuknavitch
This book jumps off the cliff with the first chapter but never quite crashes at the bottom. The crazy ride stayed with me weeks after reading it, and I still occasionally ask myself what the hell just happened! The author calls it a farce; it's that and a lot more. Thank you, Lidia Yuknavitch, for the meatiest, most-fun, most-challenging-to-my-sense-of-how-far-you-can-push-things book of the year.
Yuknavitch is such a literary badass. In her debut novel (following last year's fantastic memoir, The Chronology of Water), she rips Freud's classic case study to shreds, then stitches it back together as a contemporary radical/feminist/hyperactive/queer coming-of-age story. Hysterical!
Synopses & Reviews
INTRODUCTION BY CHUCK PALAHNIUK
IDA NEEDS A SHRINK; or so her philandering father thinks, and he sends her to a Seattle psychiatrist. Immediately wise to the head games of her new shrink, who she nicknames Siggy and Sig, Ida begins a coming of age journey. At the beginning of her therapy Ida, who's alter-ego is Dora, and her small posse of pals, Little Teena, Ave Maria, and Obsidian, engage in what they call "art attacks" for teen fun and mayhem. Ida has a secret: she is in love with Obsidian. Whats more, the closer she gets to intimacy or the crisis of deep emotions, Ida faints or loses her voice. Ida and her friends hatch a plan to secretly record and film Siggy and Ida intends to make an experimental art film in which he figures. Sig becomes the target of her teen rage and angst, but something goes terribly wrong at a crucial moment of filming Siggy at a nearby hospital when Ida finds her father in the emergency room having suffered an acute heart attack. Ida loses her voice and experiences more trauma — a rough cut of her experimental film has gone underground viral and unethical media agents are trying to hunt her down to buy the material. A chase ensues in which everyone wants what Ida's got.
Dora: A Head Case is a contemporary coming of age story based on Freud's famous case study — retold and revamped through Dora's point of view, with shotgun blasts of dark humor and sexual play. Its a ballsy book. Some have called it the female Fight Club.
"Hold a basketball under water, take your hand away, and it'll surface with the powerhouse force of the suppressed. Welcome to Lidia Yuknavitch's world. In Dora: A Headcase, Yuknavitch reimagines the girl, the woman, at the heart of Sigmund Freud's breakthrough case study and unleashes this character's fury against a backdrop of hypocritical adulthood. Yuknavitch is talking back to a hundred years, to the founding of psychoanalysis. I'd like to think she wrote parts of this novel just for me, but so many readers will feel that way. Yuknavitch has wrestled with the force of her own convictions and given a powerful voice to a badass character born on the literary landscape." Monica Drake author of Clown Girl
"Dora is too much for Sigmund Freud but shes just right for us — raunchy, sharp and so funny it hurts." Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love
"In these times there's no reason for a novel to exist unless it's dangerous, provocative and not like anything that's come before. Dora: A Headcase is that kind of novel. It's dirty, sexy, rude, smart, soulful, fresh and risky. Think of your favorite out-there genius writer; multiply by ten, add a big heart, a poet's ear, and a bad girl's courage, and you've got Lidia Yuknavitch." Karen Karbo, author of How Georgia Became O'Keeffe
"Dora: A Head Case is first and foremost an irreverent portrait of a smart seventeen year old trying to survive. It channels Sigmund Freud and his young patient Dora and is both a hilarious critique and an oddly touching homage. With an unerring ear and a very keen eye, Lidia Yuknavitch casts a very special slant of light on our centuries and our lives. Put simply, the book is needed." Carole Maso, author of Defiance and The Art Lover
"Snappy and fun. I can pretty much guarantee you haven't met a character quite l like Ida before." Blake Nelson, author of Girl and Paranoid Park
"In Dora, [Lidia Yuknavitch] takes the most classic model of Thera-tainment, personal-crisis-as-content, and she re-imagines it wonderfully reversed. The world of Dora is not just possible, it's inevitable. It's revenge as the ultimate therapy." From the introduction by Chuck Palahniuk, author of Damned
"Dora: A Headcase is a feminist retelling of Freud's famous case study, Dora. But the novel constantly transcends this conceit in beautiful and surprising ways....Put simply, Yuknavitch has written the best portrait of teen girlhood I have ever read. I loved this book — it's like a smart, fast chick Fight Club." Vanessa Veselka, author of Zazen
About the Author
Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of The Chronology of Water: A Memoir and three works of short fiction: Her Other Mouths, Libertys Excess, and Real to Reel, as well as a book of literary criticism, Allegories of Violence.
Her work has appeared in Ms., the Iowa Review, Exquisite Corpse, Another Chicago Magazine, Fiction International, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere. Her book Real to Reel was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and she is the recipient of awards and fellowships from Poets and Writers and Literary Arts, Inc. Her work appears in the anthologies Life As We Show It (City Lights), Forms At War (FC2), Wreckage of Reason (Spuytin Duyvil). Yuknavitch teaches writing, literature, film, and Women's Studies in Oregon.
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