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Showing posts from June, 2011

Underkill

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So I just finished up Underkill, the second book in Leonard Chang's Allen Choice trilogy. It's another gripping story by Chang, and I'm already into the third book Fade to Clear.

The thing about Allen Choice (the protagonist in these stories) is that he's a whitewashed Asian with an Anglicized name. He can't speak a lick of Korean, and he maintains no connection to his cultural heritage other than eating rice cakes. This cultural disinheritance is compounded by the fact that both of his parents are dead.

Despite being a whitewashed Asian, Allen acts and thinks the way a lot of Asian American guys act and think: strong but silent. Chang narrates the stories through Allen's thoughts, so we get a sense that even though he isolates himself from others at times, Allen's still waters run deep with insecurities. This fallibility is what makes him relatable, what makes him human. And the reader sympathizes with Allen.

For whatever reason, Asians tend not to …

Mental Cages, Psychological Ropes

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So I was having coffee with an old friend the other day. He's a good guy, and a loyal friend over the 20+ years I've known him. But he's also got the angry Asian man syndrome. In the early years when we hung out with each other, we'd be bitching about stereotypes in the media and the racist micro-aggressions we as Asian men have to endure on a daily basis.

As the years passed, I found myself less and less inclined to engage in such bitchfests. I was tired of being chronically angry, because it was seeping into other aspects of my life and affecting my psyche. I channeled my anger into productive projects and self-improvement. My friend, however, is still quite angry after all these years.

But there was something he said to me this last time we met up. He said, "I used to think that other people were brainwashed. That other people could not and would not see the racism. But I've realized that I've been brainwashed. That my mind is preoccupied with these iss…

"Over the Shoulder" by Leonard Chang

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So I seem to have stumbled upon a budding genre within a genre: the Asian American mystery. I've already written before about Ed Lin's books about Chinese American detective Robert Chow. Well I just finished up Leonard Chang's Over the Shoulder, a mystery novel about Allen Choice, a Korean American security specialist (a.k.a. bodyguard) who investigates the murder of his coworker.

"How many mysteries have an Asian American protagonist? Not many. Maybe the racist portrayal of Charlie Chan. So why not? What better way to normalize the Asian American male than to have him deal with everyday life?" -Leonard Chang

There is a way to address both the Asian American communities and a mainstream audience, and that is to write a book for multiple genres.
Bottom line is if you can write a GOOD book in a mainstream genre (like mystery or sci fi) and address AA themes, then you can kill 2 birds with one stone. And that's what Leonard Chang does in this book Over the Shou…

Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling

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If you couldn't get through the 11 pages (11 PAGES!), then the above video is a good synopsis of Wesley Yang's Paper Tigers article. For those of you who are Asian Robots and are completely clueless as to the influence of your Asian heritage in the workplace, then you can read Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling, which I just finished up.

It's not a book that I recommend for Asian Americans who are well acculturated or who have fiesty, Yang-style personalities. But if you're somewhat timid and your career has stalled, then this is an OK read. I say OK, because the book is like a lot of self-help books (and a lot of people): it identifies a problem, but doesn't necessarily solve it.

Dangers to the Asian American Community in the 21st Century

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A Follow Up Thought on Don Lee's "Yellow"

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Just to quickly follow up a thought I posted in response to the Don Lee's "Yellow" thread, I stated that it was refreshing to see Asian characters without any special emphasis on their Asian-ness. Characters that just happen to be Asian.

I actually caught an episode of "House" the other week and it had James Hiroyuki Liao whose character was the long time partner of Iranian born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo who was portraying a performance artist. What struck me about this episode was that the screenplay didn't dwell whatsoever on their ethnic backgrounds. They just simply were....and we got to see their humanity. I actually feel like I want to write a letter to the screenwriter and commend him on a nice portrayal of an Asian American man and a Southwest Asian woman without falling into the lazy trap of just using stereotypes to "explain" these characters.



I found that to be refreshing and I'd hope for Hollywood to continue this (but I ain't…

Clowns at the Gates of Sanity, Part 2

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I titled the previous post as Part 1 because I knew this stuff wasn’t going to be over. Of course Donald Trump was never going to run for the GOP nominee for the presidential elections. Only a moron would think that he would. And he won’t now, even with Palin supposedly saying that she would “love” for him to run. He’ll never fill out his financial disclosure forms for scrutiny, which means, he won’t run. This is all ego and theater. Does he really want people to scrutinize why he filed for bankruptcy four times? I thought casinos were suppose to make money.


But again, this guy blows the dog whistle for race baiters. Once the birther issue was settled when Obama requested the state of Hawaii to release his certificate, this guy goes on the attack in scrutinizing Obama’s background, challenging how and why Obama got into Columbia, which is a not so subtle jab at affirmative action and insinuating that the man wasn’t really qualified to get in. ``I don't know why he doesn't rel…