Tag Archives: © 2021 Book Chatter

Sunday Matters: Football Game or the Time We Ate All Day Long?

Sunday Matters

Good morning! Who is watching the Super Bowl today? I will watch for the commercials. I hope they are really funny this year. We all need a little bit of humor.

Right Now:

Coffee drinking is in progress. I am also assembling veggie enchiladas for our game watching feast. I will serve it with rice and black beans, chips and seven layered dip.

This Week:

On Thursday I have an appointment to get a different vaccine, my second shingles shot. It’s a good thing I set a reminder to book the appointment because four months went by fast. I’ll run over on my lunch break and check that off my list.

There could be more audition stuff going on this week but at the moment I am not sure. There are these things called “walk-ins” where certain schools open up a block of time to allow last minute walk-ins. It’s a good way to open up your possibilities. We are adding four schools for walk-ins.

At the end of this week my church is doing a Galentines event for youth group. It sounds fun. My availability is unknown at this moment since it will depend on what I noted above. I believe it’s outside. Have to check on that.

Have I told you that my son decided to apply to grad school? He has submitted a few applications so far. He will graduate this summer with a B.A. but wants to continue on in Arts Administration so he can pursue his dream of opening community art centers in underprivileged neighborhoods.

Reading:

My eyes are begging me to take a break. Reading, reading, reading, but besides my eyes, it feels good. This week my reviews for Are We There Yet? and Klara and the Sun will post. I finished The Night Tiger so I will get that review up soon.

Next up is Murakami’s latest, First Person Singular, and this one that one of my students lent me:

The Distant Dead

Watching:

We started to watch Schitt’s Creek, finally! We are done with Season One and it’s great. It’s funny and crazy and well-written. My husband watches it with me and we both love how quickly the episodes fly by. We say we are going to watch an episode and then before we know it we’ve watched three. We should get through these seasons quickly.

Grateful for:

  • Bookish friends who let me borrow books. Thank you!
  • Streaming services. I know they can get out of hand if you have  many but the few we have are just too fun and used plenty. So many good things to watch.
  • Independent bookstores. It’s more than just supporting a local business for me. It’s the whole experience. The booksellers talk books and LOVE books. So different from the big box stores. Plus, bookstore cats and dogs. LOVE. One near me even has a wine bar! It was brand new when the pandemic hit so it hasn’t been tested out yet but… a wine bar!
Vroman's Wine Bar
Vroman’s Wine Bar
Photo Credit: The Occidental

I will leave you with this. Seems like more people are being vaccinated for COVID now instead of tested for it. I think that is a good sign.

Review: Interior Chinatown

Interior Chinatown

Interior Chinatown
By Charles Yu
Vintage, 9780307948472, November 2020, 288pp.

The Short of It:

The use of satire in this novel is very effective in highlighting Asian American stereotypes and the immigrant experience. Funny, honest but also a little sad.

The Rest of It:

Interior Chinatown won the National Book Award so it’s been getting plenty of attention and I will say that it’s much deserved. You need to know going in that it’s satire and told completely in script format. Hence the title, Interior Chinatown, which is how many scripts begin. Interior, exterior, you get the gist.

Willis Wu has one dream. He wants to be “Kung Fu Guy”. If you’ve ever watched a TV show or movie where Asian American actors are included, you know this guy. He’s the guy that shows up, cleans house with his martial arts skills and has a lot of close-ups. He’s also the guy who ends up with the pretty woman. But Willis Wu is always:

  • Asian Guy Making a Strange Face
  • Asian Delivery Driver
  • Generic Asian Man #1, #2, #3
  • Dead Asian Guy

These roles are played by Willis both in real life and in a TV show called Black and White. His desire to be “Kung Fu Guy” eclipses all things, including his family. He constantly struggles to have enough to eat and yet he’s a good guy and cares for his elderly neighbors in the run down building he lives in by offering a bit of meat to them now and then.

He shows up to work. Does what he is told but through his observant eyes he continually yearns to be “that” person, the person he is not. Plus, his own mother and father lived similar lives. At first the pretty or handsome Asian and then later Old Asian Woman or Man.

There is a very blurred line in this novel between what is happening or what we think is happening. Is it real life or a TV show? Or both? I grew up with a father who cared little about me or his family but cared a lot about Bruce Lee. This infatuation with Lee is also found in this novel. He was bigger than life. He was the one Asian to be. His fame crossed many continents and he married an American school teacher but look at the tragedy that was his life. As you know, his son Brandon also died tragically and on set to boot.

Have you seen the movie Once Upon a Time In Hollywood? There is an actor who portrays Lee at the height of his career. The scene received much criticism for perpetuating Asian stereotypes. Even after Lee’s success in Hollywood, the stereotypes continued. Few movies cast Asian American actors without including a stereotype to go with it.

Interior Chinatown, with its script format and humorous tone will keep you reading and you will chuckle here and there. Yu has a sense of humor but if you sit with it for awhile, you will also note the longing the main character feels and how difficult is is for an immigrant family to make a home for themselves in this country. The story is well-written and balanced. I highly recommend it.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.