Digging to Wonderland

David Trinidad

This suburban California coming of age navigates Trinidad’s personal history in the shadow of Hollywood, against the dramas of the 1960s and ’70s.

Poet David Trinidad’s past is rich fodder for a collection of memory pieces that wind the reader through the underbelly of 1960s and ’70s America–and Southern California, more specifically. In Trinidad’s recollections, the proximity to Hollywood both glamorizes and condemns the bustling suburbs. Stains of the Manson murders and adoration for The Boys in the Band are documented with the same care as fascinations with Barbie dolls and twelve-cent comic books. The struggles of an awkward gay teenager meld into the weighty anecdotes of a young man who befriends famous writers, acts as a historian for familial legacies, and confronts the limitations of desire.

The title piece, “Digging to Wonderland,” presents a young David Trinidad and his friend Nancy as they tunnel into the ground of her backyard, in search of the next great adventure. Ultimately, we witness a childhood spent under the threat of annihilation: “So the ‘twinkly lights’ in the hills above Chatsworth were actually missiles armed with nuclear warheads. And without knowing it, I grew up under their spell.”

  • “Street names, board games, celebrities, old photos, TV shows, films, songs, fashion, the experience of growing up gay: all these and more are grist for David Trinidad’s mill. Trinidad’s poems are meticulous, confessional, elegiac, gossipy, sensitive, and playful. Their poignance and beauty teach us how memory and history are forms of yearning, and about what can and cannot be recovered.” —Amy Gerstler, author of Dearest Creature and Bitter Angel

  • “Trinidad honors the lonely moments, the new lusts, and the unrequited dreams of those we know intimately and of those we once knew who vanished. This is poetry at the glittering edge of form; this is the writing of a poet who loves the world into language. When David Trinidad searches through the pink, blurred days of the past, he finds not only himself, but all of us." —Aaron Smith, author of Appetite

  • Digging to Wonderland is an intimate and searching record of indelible marks and ephemeral impressions left behind as we pass through time’s borrowed apartments. Soul-searching, researching, and vividly reliving, Trinidad’s poems are bent on self-knowledge. . . . Who’s not a houseguest in this life we don’t get to keep? And what do any of us carefully and carelessly leave behind as we travel though?” —Robyn Schiff, author of A Woman of Property

  • “Conversational and confessional, [Digging to Wonderland] reveal[s] the compelling narrative voice of Trinidad, a born raconteur whose ease has been polished by a lifetime of practiced study.” —Foreword Reviews