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The Dirt Chronicles

The Dirt Chronicles

By Kristyn Dunnion
Categories: Fiction, LGBTQ+, Lesbian Literature, Youth Culture
Paperback : 9781551524269, 248 pages, 2011
Read Excerpt (PDF)


Lambda Literary Award finalist

A tattooed young man regains consciousness in the Don Jail, charged with his friend's murder. An anti-social office clerk falls for a handsome bike courier and abandons his former life. An Ojibwe teen hunts for her kidnapped girlfriend in an illegal sex trade ring and seeks revenge. This is the intense reality of The Dirt Chronicles, Kristyn Dunnion's stunning debut story collection. In these linked tales, urban outlaws in Toronto map out their plans to take over the world while living collectively in an abandoned chair factory, destined for demolition according to a real estate gentrification plan. Their community is infiltrated by the King, a dirty cop bent on obliterating the city's defiant underclass and exterminating the group's rogue members; in order to survive, they may have to betray what they value most: autonomy, friendship, and newly discovered concepts of freedom.

Audacious and loud, The Dirt Chronicles is a thrashing three-chord rejection of mainstream culture and the powers-that-be, and a combustible homage to class rebellion.

There's pushing and shoving and the sticks come out: bodies jerk and twitch. Feet shoot out from underneath; they kick and slide to the killer music . .. I see Digit's back, he's still eating the rest of that cake in the corner. He's licking icing off that butcher knife, and men are yelling at him. He turns, slowly, knife raised, and there's a loud pop. A sound that cracks over top of the music and Digit's head snaps backwards; there's a dark spot spreading across his chest. The knife goes flying and his body lands by the sink. He convulses, red spurts streak the walls and broken window behind him. Kids scream. A girl beside me vomits. There's that pig we hate. The King is standing over there, gun still raised, the smell of it burning my nostrils. The King turns and stares at me. He sees me see.


  • Short-listed, Lambda Literary Award 2012


[The Dirt Chronicles] is a Canadian punk Trainspotting of sorts, laying every detail bare and brutal.
-The Link (Concordia University)

- The Link

Dunnion's book is a collection of tender stories of queer desire on the margins. But it is also an unsettling and pulse-pounding queer-feminist revenge-thriller, set to a loud and rebellious punk-rock soundtrack. Whether it is read as a short story collection or a novel, The Dirt Chronicles pulls no punches.

- Briarpatch

Kristyn Dunnion creates a voice that is more of a howl: loud, assured, unapologetically intense, and utterly her own.
-Quill and Quire

- Quill and Quire

Known for her visceral, no-holds-barred young adult and speculative fiction, Dunnion's first literary fiction book for adults is just as fierce and fascinating. These fast-moving linked stories take us deep into the lives of urban outlaws and lovable misfits.
-Fashion Magazine

- Fashion

A stand-out collection . .. Dunnion envisions an underbelly in which love and friendship, while often fleeting, seem to be the only sources of nurturing in an otherwise inhospitable world.
-National Post

- National Post

The Dirt Chronicles is a delicate alloy of Burroughs and Gallant, walking an uncompromising line where the homeless, the junkies, the punks, and the dispossessed are one . .. A visceral and violent book that could have set out to shock is instead touching.
-This Magazine

- This Magazine

The Dirt Chronicles is tough and tenderhearted, a beautifully-written literary ode to outlaw culture. Kristyn Dunnion's writing is fierce and funny, a truly original book of stories I hope everyone will read.
-Zoe Whittall, author of Holding Still For As Long As Possible

- Zoe Whittall

Throughout the collection, Dunnion's gritty visceral prose immediately draws readers in . .. [her] skill as a storyteller and her empathy for the underdog are well evidenced in this collection.
-Prairie Fire Review of Books

- Prairie Fire

Dunnion is a master of reality gore, or, gore that is far too real and vivid to read as fiction as it does in the southern Gothic stories of Flannery O'Connor or in the fantasy-horror novels of Anne Rice and Stephen King. You would be hard-pressed to find better writing, but you might not have the stomach for the stories, which make the 1995 film Kids look like The Sound of Music. . ..Yet Dunnion is such a superlative writer with such exquisite literary sensibilities, you'll find yourself thrashing through the pages even as they thrash through you.
-EDGE Publications

- EDGE Publications