cover image Dora: A Headcase

Dora: A Headcase

Lidia Yuknavitch, intro. by Chuck Palahniuk. Hawthorne (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-9834775-7-0

In Yuknavitch’s audacious first novel, equal parts acid-tongued coming-of-age story and feminist retelling of Freud’s most famous case study, Seattle teen Ida goes toe-to-toe with her new shrink, nicknamed Siggy, recording their conversations (among other things) with the recorder she’s hidden in her Dora the Explorer purse. At home, her father is having an affair with Mrs. K. (Mr. K., true to Freud’s model, propositioned Ida when she was 14) and her mother is drinking herself into oblivion. In therapy, mandated by her father, Ida, nimble as a boxer, counters Siggy every time he brings up his favorite topic: sex. Sex is the one thing that Ida hasn’t experienced yet, though she’s desperately in love with her friend, Obsidian, but whenever the girls go beyond kissing, Ida either faints or loses her voice (cue Freud again). Along with Obsidian, Ida and the rest of her posse stage “art attacks” around the city, culminating in their most daring one yet following a recorded conversation between Siggy and a mysterious man—with unforeseen consequences. Yuknavitch (the memoir The Chronology of Water) nails the whip-smart angst of a teenage girl trapped in a world both familiar and unique, and her ease with language makes her a prose stylist to envy. (Sept.)