From Rags to Rags (Paperback)
Atmosphere Press, 9781646693375, 124pp.
Publication Date: March 11, 2020
Rags to Rags is an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek collection of short stories about being the poorest kid in the room. It hails from the mind of Ellie Guzman, whose unconventional approach to writing humorous essays about uncomfortable topics on her blog has led to publication worldwide and an international following.
Throughout her life, Guzman has somehow always ended up in wealthy spaces, from stumbling into the child acting industry, to scraping by on financial aid at a prestigious private university, to breaking into an animation studio and gradually working her way up the writing ladder. But in her personal life, she was always broke, growing up cramped in a one-bedroom apartment with a family of four and joining scientific studies to make a quick buck. Her short stories embrace the bizarreness of those situations as well as the realities of what being "poor" means, all through a hilarious and quirky lens.
"Oh My God, Are You Bryan Cranston?" tells the story of the time Guzman mistakenly attended a screening with the cast of Argo, and how she attacked the hors d'oeuvres to cope with the shame of being underdressed in front of her heroes. "You Better Work" describes the unusual lengths she went through to survive college, like getting her blood drawn for cash or pretending to be a freshman for a free sandwich. "The New Normal" describes how exactly she made the leap from a career in medicine to one in television, and "Whitewashed" explores an identity crisis as a first-generation Latina coming to terms with who she is. It's a variety of topics infused with Guzman's unique voice, funny but sincere, conversational yet biting. It doesn't take itself too seriously; after all, it's not a story of rags to riches. It's a story of rags to rags.