I am in a writing mood right now, plus I don't have to go to work today.
Maxine Hong Kingston's "The Fifth Book of Peace" - Half fiction, half memoir, this is about Kingston's struggle to find a way out of war and to bring peace to everyone. The book is divided into four sections - Fire, Water, Paper, Earth. Fire is about the Oakland hills fire that destroyed her home right after her father's funeral. Water is a fictionalized account of her time in Hawaii using a character from one of her previous books, Wittman Ah Sing, during the Vietnam war. Wittman is a war resister who evades the draft by flying to Hawaii with his white wife and their mixed-race son, where they meet all sorts of people and encounter the idea of "Sanctuary". I forget where Paper and Earth split off, but these chapters are about the years after the Oakland fire, where Kingston gathers a group of war veterans, mostly from Vietnam, but from Korea and WWII, too to start a writing workshop, so they can write their way out of their pain. I admit, I disliked the Water chapter the most for somewhat irrational reasons. The entire book is well-written; it's just that I prefer reading about Kingston's actual experiences as opposed to her fiction, which seems to me to be thinly veiled autobiography anyway. She mentions that she started the writing workshop for veterans as partly as a way to help her brothers cope with the trauma of war, but they don't come. (It makes me wonder how her brothers felt, fighting in the Vietnam war.) This book was published in 2004, but the workshop had been going on since the original Iraq war. Overall the book is good, but you have to have patience with the way the narrative jumps all over the place, and also when Kingston seems to drop in weird non-sequiturs and then never addresses them again. The workshop's writing has turned into the new book Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace
. Excerpts can be read at Bill Moyers Journal website
I still think from what I've read so far of her writing, that Woman Warrior was her best work. Interestingly, in this book she clarifies what actually happened with her parents when they immigrated here. She felt safe finally telling their stories for real now that they were dead and can't be deported.
Top Chef 4 Star All Stars: Top Chef is one of those Project Runway spin-offs that was actually successful. This episode was a one-off before the start of Season 3, and pitted Season 1 against Season 2. It was so funny that the arrogant pricks from each season ended up being the team captains and basically went head-to-head against each other. I do have to say, I liked Stephen a lot more this time around.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: There's been some discussion online-the powers-that-be at HBO decided to center the story on a part-white Sioux doctor who marries a white woman, neither of whom actually appear in the work this was based on because "Everyone felt very strongly that we needed a white character or a part-white, part-Indian character to carry a contemporary white audience through this project," Daniel Giat, the writer who adapted the book for HBO Films, told a group of television writers earlier this year.
I didn't really read all this stuff going in, but dude, this guy thinks only white people watch HBO? And that white people care only about watching other white people? Talk about low expectations.
I should preface this by saying that I know literally nothing about the Sioux or most Native Americans and their stories. Anyway, although I liked the actor who played Charles Eastman, because he reminded me of a young Chow-Yun-Fat, I thought his story fell kind of flat. There was decent acting in those scenes, but if his entire purpose was to connect the viewer with the rest of the Sioux who were forced from their land, it didn't really work. The story overall was very affecting, and really depressing. I didn't think the film itself, as a stand-alone product was that bad, and it made me want to find out more about the Sioux. Obviously, though, I know nothing about what actually happened or I would be more pissed off, probably. I would argue, though that we didn't get to see enough of the Sioux, and saw too much of the American government. Pam Noles' post about Bury My Heart.Statement by Hanay Geiogamah, Professor of Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Director, UCLA American Indian Studies Center
- he had some serious issues with it.Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, the book.
John Tucker Must Die - Teen movie fluff. It was enjoyable and not deep at all, even though we are informed that the main character likes Elvis Costello and Dave Eggers. Introduced me to the stereotype of "vegan is code for slut". When did that happen?