A ruthless and razor-sharp essay collection that tackles the pervasive, creeping oppression and toxicity that has wormed its way into society—in our books, schools, and homes, as well as the systems that perpetuate them—from the acclaimed author of Mean, and one of our fiercest, foremost explorers of intersectional Latinx identity.
A creep can be a singular figure, a villain who makes things go bump in the night. Yet creep is also what the fog does—it lurks into place to do its dirty work, muffling screams, obscuring the truth, and providing cover for those prowling within it.
Creep is Myriam Gurba’s informal sociology of creeps, a deep dive into the dark recesses of the toxic traditions that plague the United States and create the abusers who haunt our books, schools, and homes. Through cultural criticism disguised as personal essay, Gurba studies the ways in which oppression is collectively enacted, sustaining ecosystems that unfairly distribute suffering and premature death to our most vulnerable. Yet identifying individual creeps, creepy social groups, and creepy cultures is only half of this book’s project—the other half is examining how we as individuals, communities, and institutions can challenge creeps and rid ourselves of the fog that seeks to blind us.
With her ruthless mind, wry humor, and adventurous style, Gurba implicates everyone from Joan Didion to her former abuser, everything from Mexican stereotypes to the carceral state. Braiding her own history and identity throughout, she argues for a new way of conceptualizing oppression, and she does it with her signature blend of bravado and humility.
About the Author
Myriam Gurba is a writer and artist. She is the author of the true crime memoir Mean, a New York Times Editors’ Choice. O, The Oprah Magazine, ranked Mean as one of the best LGBTQ books of all time. Publishers Weekly describes Gurba as having a voice like no other. Her essays and criticism have appeared in The Paris Review, Time, and 4Columns. She has shown art in galleries, museums, and community centers. She lives in Pasadena, California.
"Myriam Gurba is the most fearless writer in America. And is most generous and kind to those who have no champion, while setting fire to the towers of the villainous. Creep is another beautifully daring book. Long may she reign." —Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Good Night, Irene
“Gurba is mighty. Brilliant, Mexican, wry; an ethnographer of our inheritances, she trains our eyes on the ugliness of racism, imperialism, and misogyny. A curate of liberation, Gurba pays homage to the survivors and the victims. This book is ceremony: beautiful, difficult and important.” —Imani Perry, National Book Award-winning author of South to America
“I loved Creep and already consider it essential reading, a California classic. It is full of verve, hilarity, and excitement. Gurba is tender but tough, and her book gleams with voluptuous horror, historical rigor, and astonishing psychological depth.” —Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers
"Gurba’s lyrical prose forces us to face the sexism, racism, homophobia, and other systems of oppression that allow some Americans to get away with murder while the rest of us live in constant fear. Every piece is rife with well-timed humor and surprising conclusions, many of which come from the author's staggering command of history. Profoundly insightful, thoroughly researched, incredibly inventive, and laugh-out-loud funny, this book is a masterpiece of wit and vulnerability. A truly exceptional essay collection about safety, fear, and power." —Kirkus *starred review*
“In Creep, Gurba stitches together a no-holds-barred analysis of violence in and out of national borders, interpersonal relationships, and literature. It is a testament to Gurba’s dexterity as a writer but also her courage to embark upon the expedition of her own memories.” —Morgan Jerkins, New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing
"Boom! Myriam Gurba's writing is a nuclear explosion." —Silvia Moreno-Garcia, bestselling author of Mexican Gothic
“Myriam Gurba is not someone you want to make mad. Her writing makes me feel like I have a far cooler, smarter big sister standing up to familiar monsters: bad men, our deepest fears, Joan Didion, our stolen girlhoods. Myriam makes me think and feel but, most importantly, Myriam’s writing makes me feel like writing because her fire is contagious.” —Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, author of The Undocumented Americans
"With its powerful voice and truth-telling, Creep will help cement Myriam Gurba’s reputation as a singular and essential voice in American literature. Again and again, the tales in this book reveal the strength of a woman joyfully and relentlessly defending her dignity against those who would demean her." —Héctor Tobar, author of National Book Critics Circle award finalist Deep Down Dark
“The poetic wit, humor, and brutal brilliance of Myriam Gurba’s Creep make for unforgettable reading.” —Lisa Teasley, author of award-winning Glow in the Dark and Fluid
“With deadpan humor and devastating wit, Myriam Gurba creeps through the hypocrisies of rape culture, patriarchal violence, anti-Mexican racism, and familial trauma to expose the brutality in everyday life. Who else could take on Joan Didion’s racial grammar while demolishing Barbies and extolling the integrity of sluts? ‘Humor can only go so far,’ Gurba writes, and when she drops the mic on her own survival the text shimmers. Meticulously researched and boldly articulated, Creep dares us all to stop pretending.” —Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author of The Freezer Door
"Myriam Gurba, in her fiercest and most original work yet, reminds us that our personal and familial histories are inextricably linked to the violences of historical memory; that no amount of silencing of our language and literatures can undo the shameful legacies of dispossession and dehumanization. Creep is a powerful work that narrates the trajectory of one Mexican family and the feminist geographies of both self-making and self-destruction against the backdrop of a violently misogynist 20th century. Necessary and unsettling, Gurba’s razor-sharp insights puts us all in touch with the insidiously toxic and systematic demand for our complacency and compliance. A masterful writer, Gurba graces our collective rage with a finely crafted prose more dangerous than any arsenal." —Raquel Gutiérrez, critic and academic
"'Kids in California inherit a macabre history,' Gurba writes, and, as a trans queer person who grew up in California, Creep attends to questions within me whose answers, until this moment, only rumbled beneath the surface. Decolonizing with exactitude, deep intelligence, extensive research, embodied knowledge, family history, and memoir, Creep ingeniously spans an immense range of subjects, interrogating the archives of history that exist within and without us, painting it all with masterfully complex and colorful poetic strokes—and with depth and humor. This is the best book I have read in years, the LGBTQIA+2 anthem I have been waiting for. Myriam Gurba is a genius and the voice of our generation. Creep has liberated me. " —Daniel Sea, filmmaker and actor
SELECT PRAISE FOR MEAN
“Like most truly great books, Mean made me laugh, cry and think. Myriam Gurba’s a scorchingly good writer.” —Cheryl Strayed, The New York Times
“Myriam Gurba’s voice is a refreshing burst of honesty, poetry, and spectacularly dark humor…. Through her unpredictable style, Gurba offers a welcomed antidote to the formula of the contemporary novel.” —W Magazine
“Gurba’s 'queer art of being mean' is a triumph of deadpan humor in a timely and thrilling voice. Stop everything and read this brave and tender book." —O, The Oprah Magazine
“With its icy wit, edgy wedding of lyricism and prose, and unflinching look at personal and public demons, Gurba’s introspective memoir is brave and significant.” —Kirkus
“Honest and darkly funny, the book is riddled with moments that will have you nodding, cringing, and crying right along with the author.” —Harper’s Bazaar
“Throughout the book, [Gurba] handles the telling of one tragedy after another with great care and sharp humor, so there is redemption and levity even in dark moments.” —Buzzfeed
“To say this book exudes confidence is an understatement.” —ELLE
“I am such a gigantic fan of Myriam Gurba. Her voice is an alchemy of queer magic, feminist wildness, and intersectional explosion. She’s a gigantic inspiration to my work and the sexiest, smartest literary discovery in Los Angeles. She’s totally ready to wake up the world.” —Joey Soloway