Friday, September 5, 2008

A Gesture Life

A Gesture Life enfolds you into the layered depths of the immigrant world of its Korean-born Japanese American protagonist. Chang-Rae Lee offers the reader a story that unfolds in front of you silently like an ancient rolled manuscript. He takes you smoothly through the pages of the character's life by using conversations as the tool to reveal events. The beads of facts are arranged gracefully on the string of intimate dialogues.

Otherwise, the book takes you into the life of the silent Dr. Hata without much ceremonialism. It lets you eavesdrop on the conversations and learn about the past of Dr. Hata as much as the others will tell you. Because Dr. Hata is a silent Japanese. The stylistics of the text will also present the reader with a picture of Japanese treasures: blossoms, flowers, tea, long afternoon conversations, beautiful gardens.

I can't wait to finish reading it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Glass Castle: Post-"Summer Reading" Toughts

Ok. Let me be straight. It is not that I did not like the book and its story. On the contrary, the journalistic style of Walls is very grabbing and the story is well-told. I guess it was the reaction of the audience that tuned me off. For God's sake, is it possible to have The Glass Castle in the top ten New York Times book list for 45 weeks! What is annoying in this particular case is the mass reader underdeveloped taste when it comes up to literary works. Why does the author have to swear by the truthfulness of the story to amaze the American audience? And what is it about this American memoir craze?

Also, after my Summer Reading Session with the new freshmen on campus, I do see how there are morals to be collected from the book and safely put into the new-college-student basket. Yes, it is a great book for Convocation purposes. Yes, it does offer indispensable life lessons. Yes, freshmen should sleep with a copy of The Glass Castle under their pillows.

In the end, after I listened to Jannette Walls address the audience at the Convocation, I have to say that now I even like the book quite a bit. Jannette delivered an interesting and lively speech peppered with some humorous stories alongside the inevitable moralizing points. In the beginning, she was less confident; she did even seem humbled to be the main Convocation speaker. Towards the end, her pathos was higher, and her well-practiced speech truly hit some nails on the head. "She knows what she is doing," was the reaction of some random spectators. I guess so. Walls also said that when she revealed the story of her past, a lot of people came up to her wanting to disclose secrets from their past and assure her that they had similar experience. Well, maybe it is the secrets-of-the-past craze what the audience is truly about, and not so much the simple memoir genre. Let me think about some of my secrets. Perhaps I have a story to tell; or even two.