Nochita

Dia Felix, Author
Dia Felix. City Lights, $15.95 trade paper (242p) ISBN 978-0-87286-612-6
Ebook - 242 pages - 978-0-87286-613-3
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Filmmaker Felix's debut novel explores the life of a young woman, Notchita or Chita, whose pleasant but unconventional childhood is disrupted by the death of her cool, hippie "guru" mother. When Nochita goes to live with her alcoholic father Jorge and her overly sensitive stepmother Beverly, she gains a better understanding of his experiences in the Vietnam War, until his post-traumatic stress disorder forces Nochita to try to live on her own. Felix peppers the book with several interesting fragments—Nochita has a pet pig, meets outsiders like herself, experiments with drugs, makes discoveries about her sexuality, finds unusual employment as a cigarette girl, and learns to cope with death. There are also some darkly funny moments but ultimately the book seems invested with showing us the strange and dazzling people in Nochita's life rather than giving us time to understand and experience these characters. As a result, there is no emotional pay-off at the end. Even the book's central tensions—Nochita's conflicted longings (she desires normalcy yet she constantly seeks adventure)—aren't fully explored. (Apr.)
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