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Don't Tell Me What to Do

Don't Tell Me What to Do

By Dina Del Bucchia
Categories: Women's Literature, Fiction
Paperback : 9781551527017, 278 pages, 2017
Read Excerpt (PDF)


An offbeat story collection about strange, imperfect people doing strange, imperfect things.

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.


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 Schofield, author of Martin John

Each of the fifteen stories, mostly populated by female protagonists at less-than-perfect moments in their lives, show the work of a generous writer committed to creating characters unapologetically being themselves in all their flawed, misguided glory. These are irresistible, if not exactly admirable, women: the kind you gossip about and wish you actually knew. -Room

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 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

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

These are evocative, memorable characters. Captivating stories, with tight, polished writing. All told in a shockingly unique voice. -Toronto Star

Del Bucchia's stories are similarly bold, brash, and self-assured . .. Don't Tell Me What to Do expands Del Bucchia's already impressive range, and doesn't disappoint. -Winnipeg Free Press

Across 15 stories, Dina Del Bucchia showcases a delightful eclecticism . .. There's a lightness of touch, an optimism, that pervades the collection. It is a refreshing break, a pleasure. -Vancouver Sun

A large part of the success of this book comes from Del Bucchia's willness to realize the full potential -- however outlandish -- of her often-quirky premises . .. Del Bucchia holds real situations and emotions up to a funhouse mirror, and the world is shown to be both sillier and sadder than we expected. -Quill and Quire (starred review)

A confident collection of 15 witty, tightly crafted tales of theft, artisanal doghouses, and funeral crashing . .. This is an exhilarating fiction debut. -Publishers Weekly (starred review)