Throughout How Gone We Got Dina Guidubaldi expounds on young alienated women struggling with life and those around them. Whether it’s remembering finding a corpse on the “It’s a Small World” ride at Walt Disney World, or dodging the advances of a handsome Latin ambassador, or getting ready to jump to her death in a dystopian future, Ms. Guidubaldi’s heroines face steep odds, perhaps constantly at the point of insurmountability. In the seventeen servings in this short story collection, the author shows a very impressive range of setting and plot, and takes a look at sadness and desperation from a wide variety of angles. I’m rather taken by it.
Ms. Guidubaldi demonstrates her powers very consistently from story to story, but I want to single out a few for special mention. “The Love in Your Mouth” captures the life a woman and her boyfriend find when they run away to Florida. It’s unusually visual for this collection, and the passive, pessimistic view this woman has for her life and her relationship sets the tone for much that follows. The toxicity that runs through these stories takes the form of actual poison from jellyfish in this story. She repeats this watching-my-relationship-disintegrate theme in a couple of other stories, notably “The Desert: A Field Guide.” It’s never ver clear whether the protagonist really values the relationship, or whether she recognizes the inevitability of the breakup and her own powerlessness to stop it.
Ms. Guidubaldi launches these pieces from a place where things are already broken down - the damage has already been done, and feels like it was done a long time ago. In some stories we witness events at their logical, whimpering end, but in others the concluding moment is very dramatically poised - about to happen. Her stories show a very consistent mastery of her form and she combines this with a raw honesty to make a very impressive, worthwhile whole. These stories come from an interesting new voice, one to keep an eye on, certainly.