Don't Tell Me What to Do
Arsenal Pulp Press, Fall 2017
In poet Dina Del Bucchia's debut story collection, an older woman becomes obsessed with the state of her lawn, a pet architect jeopardizes her relationship with her wife over a wild bird, a cement mixer helps a woman fulfill her dreams, a former model becomes a cult leader through social media, a teenaged girl is preoccupied with making shopping-haul videos, and a young woman goes on a crime spree thanks to a basement containing $35,000 in coins.
These funny and strange stories are populated by weirdos and misfits trying out new ways of being in the world; sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail, and sometimes they end up in a slapstick sex scene that culminates with broken furniture. Disarming and bittersweet, Don’t Tell Me What to Do isn't scared to tell the truth about those of us who are emotional, who care too much about things that might seem ridiculous, and who are beautifully, perfectly flawed.
Don’t Tell Me What To Do is a collection of stories that inhabit the discomfort of our daily lives. The characters, caught between ennui and earnestness, barrel toward experience, toward the promise of love or, sometimes, the consequences of hate. In these stories, anything can change. The banal can become transcendent. A model can become a cult leader. Good sex can become cringingly bad. Dina Del Bucchia writes that fictional line that divides tragedy and comedy, a line that is always thinner and more permeable than we think, and that is also unrelentingly, achingly human. —Jen Sookfong Lee, author of The Conjoined
With her poet's instinct for imagery, irony and scathing comedy, Dina Del Bucchia captures the melancholy and quirky profundity of contemporary life. These stories are a sly intervention at just the right moment, a canny diagnosis of, and much-needed salve for, the modern condition's lonely ache. —Nancy Lee, author of The Age
Dina Del Bucchia writes into and out of a very Vancouver tradition, following the line of writers like DM Fraser, while paludifying her own perky collision of community, class, and bra clasps. —Anakana Scofield, author of Martin John
Do not tell Dina Del Bucchia what to do, because she already knows what to do. Comedy like this only comes from an enormously rich mind, from a pounding heart, from bold and fearless guts. Reading this collection is like listening to an orchestra that knows all your secrets. Percussive and beautiful and sweepingly human, I'll be thinking about this book for the rest of my life. —Gabe Liedman, writer and actor
with Daniel Zomparelli
How to tell if you are compatible with this book: Are you equally versed in literature and pop culture? Are you a film-savvy fan of contemporary poetry? Are you an academic with interest in literature and cultural studies? Are you in general a cool, sad person? This book might just be the sassy best friend you’ve wanted.
“Daniel Zomparelli and Dina Del Bucchia lend coolness to a genre that’s steadfastly anything but in Rom Com. The book mines the conventions of romantic comedy, as well as the content of actual romantic comedies, with the kind of deep sympathy and sense of humour you’re only really able to pull off when you really love the thing you’re making fun of. … all in all it’s an in-depth exploration of a skin-deep genre that’s whip-smart and extremely fun to read.”
– Emma Healey, Globe and Mail
“Basically awesome. … The poems bounce between poking fun at the absurdity of rom-coms and their clichés, and shovelling ice cream scoops of sadness into their downturned mouths – sometimes all at once. … Maybe more people would like poetry if it was always this smart and fun.”
– Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press
“An enormously smart and witty collection, playing with stereotypes and a love of bad film. And yet, are Del Bucchia and Zomparelli celebrating the genre or pulling away the curtain, and revealing its inherent shallowness? The answer, I think, is, somehow, incredibly, both.”
– rob mclennan’s blog
“If your relationship with mainstream rom coms remains, like mine, love/hate, on-again/off-again, or just ‘it’s complicated,’ then Rom Com might be a great place to share a laugh and maybe some tears of disappointment in mainstream media representation. I not only felt represented in these poems, but also seen and validated. … Rom Com doesn’t shy away from being critical of mainstream romantic comedies, even as it unabashedly expresses its love for the genre.”
– Daily Xtra
Insomniac Press, 2014
"Stars: they’re craven, needy, obsequious, drunk, distracted and guilt-stricken - just like us! Whether they’re making out with our boyfriends or leaving us standing alone at craft services, we can’t get enough of their antics. We want more. We need more.
In Blind Items, Dina Del Bucchia reverse-engineers the public persona of celebrities to reveal the mouth like “hospital Jell-O, perfect in a place full of despair.” Does Chlöe Sevigny have a love/hate relationship with the umlaut? Is Leonard Cohen gentle and kind? Is overachievement as contagious as an STI? Which star carries a torch for his dead dog? What’s it really like to make out with your own doppelganger?
These poems will pick you up on Page Six and leave you gasping at the side of the highway, filthy, sweaty, and breathless. - Nikki Reimer, author of Downverse and [sic]
"In Blind Items, Dina Del Bucchia guides readers on a virtual celebrity tour, moving from a night spent Partying (emphasis on the P) with R. Kelly to a testy confessional with Julia Roberts (Hint: she's mean!) and winding up in bed with Michael Keaton in character as Batman. Del Bucchia deftly dodges revealing her sources and leaves the reader in the morning groping after whatever it is that poems should do in the wake of such humorous, intimate and intelligent company. Blind Items is a must read for understanding the impact of celebrity culture on how we relate to each of our others (or otters)." - Jason Christie, author of Unknown Actor, I-Robot and Canada Post
Coping with Emotions and Otters
“Dina Del Bucchia aims her sassy wit at “jealousy,” “happiness,” “guilt” and other subjective experiences—if you’re unable to admit how these wily emotions truly manifest for you, Del Bucchia is more than willing. Her poems are like hot gossip from whip-smart grapevine that you simply can’t help but overhear.” – Amber Dawn, author of Sub Rosa and How Poetry Saved My Life
“ Coping with Emotions and Otters is subversive, sly, and hilarious. In it, Dina Del Bucchia not only reveals the emotional landscapes of the beautiful-on-the-outside urbanites, but also treats us to wry and unexpectedly poignant step-by-step guides on how to properly achieve these feelings ourselves. Sharp and candid, Del Bucchia deftly holds a comic mirror to our own awkward lives in this exciting, accomplished debut.” – Marita Dachsel, author of All Things Said & Done
"Dina Del Bucchia’s debut is funny, perversely beautiful, and satirical without being judgmental. Here, all emotions are to be revelled in, from happiness ("soft lighting, WiFi connection, rat poison") to shame ("catch the glimpse of uncertainty / as you mispronounce countries"). Buy, read, and clutch to your chest this comforting poetic guide for painful times." – Jennica Harper, author of The Octopus and Other Poems and What It Feels Like For a Girl