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)

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