Dagoberto Gilb Essay, Research Paper
Dagoberto Gilb was born in Los Angeles in 1950. A mix of gritty humor, mundane terror, and economic misfortune distinguishes his short stories. His life has been neither easy nor subdued, and these influences are reflected in his writing style and choice of subject matter. The short story entitled “Love in L.A.,” by Dagoberto Gilb, shows how one can see many reasons in seeing irony and even satire by the story’s title and how all is stories combine in someway.
Dagoberto Gilb’s childhood was spent running wild in a bad part of Los Angeles. At the age of eighteen, Gilb decided to attend college, obtaining degrees in Philosophy and Religious studies. It was during this period that he began to keep personal notebooks. Following completions of a master’s degree, he became a journeyman carpenter from 1976 – 1991, which provided the flexibility to devote large blocks of time to writing. He is married to a woman named Rebeca, and has two children named Antonio and Ricardo. Gilb worked in the Department of English at the University of Texas in 1988, the University of Arizona in 1992, and the University of Wyoming in 1994 (“Dagoberto Gilb”)
Literary magazines were not remotely interested in publishing Gilb’s stories, which focus primarily on the professional and personal struggles of working-class Mexican Americans. But his unapologetic stories about working-class Mexican Americans have made him a voice of his people (Reid130). Gilb’s short stories are set vividly in cites of the desert Southwest and usually feature a Hispanic protagonist who is good-hearted but often irresponsible and is forever one pink slip or automotive breakdown away from disaster (Reid130).
Gilb was persuaded to submit some of the 750 pages of his unpublished stories to the National Endowment of the Arts, and, when he won a grant, it enabled him to take time to put together a collection of his work. That was The Magic of Blood, which was published in 1993 and won him a PEN Hemingway Award. The following year, recognition abounded in the form of prestigious literary awards and a flood of critical attention for The Magic of Blood (“The Magic of Blood”63-74)
Gilb has earned many awards including the Institute of Letters Award for best book of fiction and best short story in 1993. In El Paso, he gave up on New York publishing and sold his story collection to the University of New Mexico Press. He didn’t think he could support his family with his writing, but he could feel in his bones that he couldn’t go on in construction. In 1994, Grove Press purchased rights to Gilb’s The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuna, a novel of inquiry into the lives of residents of a Texas YMCA, which closes with an unsettling conclusion. “Gilb once wrote a story, “Parking Places,” about the absurd tensions born of urban constriction. And this particular misadventure is emblematic enough of the shortcomings of life in his adopted hometown that he weaved an abbreviated version of it into a recent essay” (“Muy Macho”8).
Love is a powerful force that drives one person to draw a deep affection towards another. But in the short story Love in L.A., the definition of love is the exact opposite. Through “Jake,” the protagonist’s definition of “love” is expressed in different fashions, none results in anything positive; He portrays being lazy, irresponsible, somewhat poor, and perhaps something of a scam artist, looking for his freedom. Several essences reveal the main character true identity throughout the story: a love for image, self-conceit, and daydreaming. Jake controls how well he behaves, using image as a grand part of his motivation. First, the author portrays Jake’s worries towards the bumpers of the car before thinking of the other people involved in the accident. After finding out that there is not an ‘impressionable’ scratch, ”he perks up” (Gilb 231). Then, while talking to Mariana, “he straightened out his less than new but not unhip clothes,” while he is attempting to straighten out the mess with the car accident (231). This description of imagery on himself depicts his lack of respect for others and conceit when it came to what is more important according to him. Jake can be seen as vain and egotistical in his cause. Near the end of the story he gets back into the car and he “…took a moment or two to feel both proud and sad about his performance” (232).
The reader believes it means he is proud of getting away with such rambunctious behavior and attempting to court the young lady all throughout the ordeal. With no such luck, in the end, his efforts are in vein and a distant dream and during the whole thing he is lying to her and himself. Another trait which Jake possesses’ is that of a dreamer. In the beginning of the passage, the narrator speaks of things Jake would like to do with the ’58 Buick and ends it with his life. “It [the car] would have crushed velvet interior with electric controls for the L.A. summer…heater and defroster…cruise control…mellow speakers front and rear of course,” he then follows by adding, “The fact was that he’d probably have to change his whole lifestyle… Jake could imagine lots of possibilities when he let himself…” (230-231). Jake could not even afford a tag, license, registration, or insurance for his Buick, let-alone install these extra accessories.
At another instance he shows signs of dreaming is while Jake, “…fondled the wide dimple near the cracked taillight” (231). Not only does he have feelings of her while he “fondled” the taillight and he showed her how he cares about her situation (on the surface). To say that there was any “Love in L.A.” according to this story is a huge mistake. Jake can be described an egotistical human with love for only one, that being himself. His persona describes the nature of people in Los Angeles, CA., the three traits being, love of image, self-conceit, and dreaming. Overall, there is a deeper meaning to love and it is not limited to which not only this character, but many others have not yet discovered.
In the short story “Love in L.A.”, the character, Jake, as no insurance and this causes a problem with Mariana. Here is some information, which might have helped Jake and Mariana in the accident. As of January 1, 1997, Assembly Bill 650 is in effect, and it mandates that California motorists show proof of insurance when stopped by any police officer for any reason. A person is also required to show proof of insurance when registering a vehicle or renewing vehicle registration (Thomas). Many California drivers have welcomed this new law because it guarantees compensation for injuries and damage resulting from automobile accidents. “In 70 percent of traffic accidents involving two parties, only one party has insurance. It is far less expensive to carry insurance than to face the fees that will result from failing to comply with the law” (Thomas). J.D. Weissinger, owner and operator of 20/20 Insurance says, “Fines for driving without insurance can be as much as $2,000, and in many cases, the automobile will be impounded for 30 days” (Thomas).
The number of uninsured motorists is decreasing. The California Department of Insurance shows:
More than a 6 percent decrease in the number of uninsured motorists is in California. Auto insurance rates have been reduced 5.5 percent in the past three years. The study shows the highest concentration of uninsured motorists in Imperial County, with 46.5 percent of the vehicles is uninsured. Marin County is lowest, at 12.8 percent uninsured.
For the Reader-Response I asked my mother, Diane, some questions about the short story, “Love in L.A.”, to get her opinion on the story:
Q.) Is “Love in L.A.” a love story? If the story ended with paragraph 37, how
would your interpretation of the story be affected?
A.) “The story is not a love story, but the opposite. Live pretend love, or the hope of pretend love, hence L.A. love or Hollywood love. Paragraph 37 is the slight hope of romance. After the paragraph there is no hope and she is on to him. In the last paragraph, he is back in his own fantasy world where all things are possible.”
Q.) What is the effect of setting the story’s action in a Los Angeles traffic jam on the Hollywood Freeway?
A.) “Because L.A. is a fantasy place, not real, where real love and pretend love are confused and mixed up. The Freeway is just the stage for this opportunity to be acted out.”
Q.) In a sentence or two write down what you think the story’s theme is. How does the title contribute to that theme?
A.) “The theme is playing a game of love opposed to really showing your real self. The real self often comes through and the games end. Acting like you care is like not caring and in L.A., Hollywood, acting is sometimes as good as the real thing (to an actor).”
In conclusion, Gilb, in his short stories, puts a part of him in every one of them. He tries to make them personal and meaningful, maybe not to others, but at least to himself. Now divorced and the father of an infant daughter, Gilb has been teaching for the last three years at Southwest Texas State University. Large, loud, tempestuous, Gilb is anything but professorial (“Muy Macho”8).
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