February 19, 2018

"I wanted to be liberated, a new woman, but I lived so quietly."

© Penguin Group

Drifting House
By Krys Lee

In an effort to connect with a community in my new(ish) neighborhood, tomorrow I'm checking out the fiction book club of my local bookstore. This month's pick: Drifting House, a collection of devastating short stories depicting Korean and Korean American experiences. Central themes include: abuse, loss, loneliness, yearning, family, & pain inflicted by government, war, and circumstance. They're all special and profound. Krys Lee is a good writer—provocative, illuminating, brave. Educational, too. I know very little about Korea aside from what I know about North Korea. I want more time with these, another time. But, given my current feels (winter blues!!!), I'm in need of a more uplifting next read stat.

Loved this one because in it a woman found her power; it's one of the shorts that felt the most uplifting:
"I wanted to be liberated, a new woman, but I lived so quietly," Eunkang spoke honestly, the way she rarely allowed herself, like a woman hungry for speech, and she felt herself lighter with each sentence.
("A Small Sorrow," p. 142)

"When their parents have completed the honor rituals to their ancestors and are sleeping off the Lunar New Year's feast, the neighborhood's children try to catch the moon. One of their fathers said that the Americans have learned to walk on its cratered surface, so they are determined that at least the Koreans will be the first ones to catch it. Hana will buy the successful boy or girl coveted silver-foiled Hershey's chocolates off the black market; Mina has promised a kiss to the victor. The moon looks so close. It seems entirely possible.
Boys take turns releasing the swing and gliding as high as they can. Girls jump from the top of the gleaming slide and fling a fishing net into the sky. Still, the universe is too large, and they land, dusty and defeated in the sand. Within an hour the seven of them line up on the chilly beach, somber with disappointment. Junho, the oldest by three months, says, I knew it was impossible. The youngest at seven, a girl so poor she was once caught eating leftovers from a garbage can, begins to cry. She casts a fistful of sand at him, and makes the sky cloudy for a moment.
Mina kisses the girl. Of course it's possible! she says. Here it is! And pulls the net over Hana's solemn moon-shaped face."
("Beautiful Women," p. 177-8)

February 14, 2018

There are so many kinds of love in the world, not to mention the warmth you already have.


Still Here
By Rowan Blanchard

I expressed my admiration for Rowan in the past, and almost a year to the day I'm back to express my love for her new book—a compilation of personal works by her and her friends. It is so raw and beautiful and necessary, especially now! I love seeing everything handwritten, thoughts being worked out on the page. And it reminds me of my own journal, which I've started to write in again on a semi-regular basis.

So glad Rowan created something that will make many teens (and adults) feel seen.

My favorite pages are 140-141. They read so TRUE. Was it written for me? If not, I could've easily expressed similar sentiments: the contradiction of deeply valuing my solitude while hating being alone for too long, my personal internet musings (and subsequent regrets), mornings being mine.

"Reminders: You need to be alone very often but if you stay alone you get depressed. People give you life, energy & strength. When you get too personal on the internet you almost always regret it after. Mornings are your time, you don't need to hate yourself for the things you can't control, like the way your body feels drained in the evenings. You wake up & charge with the sun. There are so many kinds of love in the world, not to mention the warmth you already have. Dip into these feelings of calm. Make lists of what you have and not just what you have to do. Good work takes time & patience but best work comes fast when you (I) are least expecting it. Trust it. It is like love, and you might get hurt."
- Tova Benjamin

"All signs are signs of the universe."
- Rowan Blanchard