MYTH TO DONALD DUK
The critics and the Chinese have not talked about the theme of the heroic family resistance to the imperial government.
What’s familial about the
3 Kingdoms. Every character is introduced by his name, his birthplace, his parents, their occupation, his nickname, his occupation, his colors, his weapon. The three blood brothers use the family as the model for their relationship. The same for MULAN and MONKEY. WATER MARGIN has 108 blood brothers, modeled on the 3 brothers of the Oath in the
The only protectors of the people were brotherhoods of outlaws forced to fight the emperor’s army and the invaders from the north. Always the invaders from the north. Dynastic stories seeded and spread to
During the Chinese rule of the Ming, the stories become codified in the first vernacular novels aimed at the people, not the ruling class, the Chinese still live by. My plays were seen as bitter by the Asia-born and Americans yellow, black and white saw them as comic.
I began my career as a novelist from the beginning, at the beginning. A kid’s book written in the present tense that goes to dreams and the past without transitional devices. The book could talk about horsemen from
The name of picture: Meeting of the Rails. All rendered so nice and so warm that adults gave DONALD DUK to their children to read themselves to sleep with for company. None of the reviews noticed it was a kid’s book with flash changes in time and space.
NOT ONE CHINESE AMERICAN REVIEW
FOR A CHINESE-AMERICAN WORK
The Chinese-Americans reviewing in the white press didn’t notice I wrote an English all-present tense grammar as my advance on and tribute to Louis Chu being the first to use English as a dialect of Cantonese. (No reviewer noticed Louis Chu at all) He duplicated Cantonese regional folk sayings from
Is my word “chickendrop” the same as a “chicken dropping”? They’re preparing footnotes for the publication of my work for the Chinese. (DONALD DUK is being published in
“What is the meaning of ‘Aiiieeeee’” They have AIIIEEEEE!? That’s another book altogether. They didn’t find the word “Aiiieeeee” in any English dictionary. We were four writers, were the first Chinese and Japanese American-born writers to brandish our writer’s childhood experience as facts of our being American-born and raised, but we had to check the facts. Facts like when a bucktoothed slanty-eyed yellow man was shot in the American comics he threw up his rifle and yelled “Aiiieeeee!” Americans that were discovered shot, asked for a cigarette and gave a short soliloquy for a death scene. Aiiieeeee! Might have been spelled differently from strip to strip, to Big Little Books, to 32 page comic books, but “Aiiieeeee!” shot-yellow after shot-yellow screamed in the movies. And died.
It was 1968 and we’d been in
Out for a nightly cappuccino we’d stop in a different used bookstore and search “C’s” “L’s” and “W’s” for books by Chan, Chin, Chew, Leong, Long, Lam, Wong, Wing, Wooey and again for Japanese names. If we found one, we cast aside our egos and read the book. Shawn and I found Lawson Inada scowling on the back of DOWN AT THE SANTA FE DEPOT a collection of poetry from
I felt pretty good. Every now and then it happened. Lawson had whatever I had and more. It usually takes me twenty twenty-five pages before I’m sure about the presence of a writer. One short half page poem, and I had to get another espresso to recover.
Shawn’s head jerks back sharply as he stares at the book. I raise my eyebrows, say “Eh?” and stare at him.
We didn’t expect the relief and joy we experienced at finding a book by a real writer. Oh, yes, there were others. NO-NO BOY was written by a real writer! John Okada was dead at 47, just last year. EAT A BOWL OF TEA is a superbly written book. He was dead also. But we found their books. As long as these books lived I was an American born yellow free to be irrelevant and trivial.
What a weight off my back. Proving that we American-born yellows have written and been published by “American” New York, San Francisco, Chicago publishers before, shouldn’t have been hard, but even with the dates and labels, presenting the proof proved difficult.
The whites assume that Christianity has given them a proprietary right to make and remake culture’s not Christian without reading the culture’s they are changing. The whites don’t treat us like writers. They treat us like waiters.
Whites knew the scripts we had in our hands without reading them. The whites patronizingly assumed we were new to writing new to
NO AA NEWSPAPERS=NO AA MAGS=NO AA CRITICS=
NO AA AUDIENCE = NO AA LIT
We wish that John Okada, and Louis Chu had been alive when we read them. But I doubt that we would have been friends. Maybe Lawson, who turned out not to dress in a military field jacket and wear a beret, as in the photo on the back of DOWN AT THE SANTA FE DEPOT, or Shawn or Jeff. John was too prissy about his looks. He was a good looking guy. He added that polish of dressing like he was good looking. He could make a used paper bag look like a designer shirt designed for him. If the novel is as good as we say it is, there are things about the author I’d like to know. I’d like to know why, in his own words, he chose to write about a pariah rather than a heroic character like himself. And I’d like to know his service record and decorations.
For ourselves, we wanted to hook up with the writers we liked or their families to learn more about how to look at similar experiences in different generations. Why isn’t
Where is the American Shangri-la with the climate light and air made for yellow artists and all yellow talents thrives and blooms year round.
No city in
In the 1950’s in my teens, in
Yellow artists dubbed “activists” by the whites newspapers of
1957 was a year when art bloomed into politics by becoming the first city to elect a yellow to office. Wing Luke, a laundryman’s son come to
The Chinese kept using their mounting political capital to advance through City and County until a Chinese American was elected Governor of Washington State. No one seemed to have noticed the press that had made
The Chinese and Japanese press that should be an indication of the community that sprouted a beloved Chinese-American governor into the world or artists, writers, and politicians in the cities and counties. But no. The two papers of the Asian-American community are embarrassingly amateurish. They should be taking apart the machine of Asian American political power that seems to lean toward a march
But two Chinatown English language newspapers are embarrassments. They can’t write a proper headline. A reason to read, what you’ll read, right now! They don’t seem to have noticed the Chinese Japanese, Japanese Chinese marriages that gave you a start in the fifties and become more common in the sixties, are still a happening thing today. The Chinese and Japanese Americans have been intermarrying so long now to not notice the phenomena makes no sense. The yellow community doesn’t have the newspapers they deserve. A scaredy cat Jr. high school paper, and a community that elected a Wing Luke to the City Council in 1957 and Gary Locke governor in 1996 don’t gibe.
Aiiieeeee! In Seattle
The Aiiieeeee! Boys came to
We went where the books we liked took us. Okada took us to
The writers we sought out, met in the last rooms in their lives, and we collected interviews about their lives, in their voices. We were excited to whooping pie eyed at getting the American-born author of a work that we’ve read more than once. We got whiffs of someone as interested as we are now, in the ‘30s before the 2nd World War of December 7, 1941, in the fields of Japanese America came new American writers blooming into print in America, and he’d give writers he liked a job writing an article, for his magazine. Like “Sushi I Have Eaten on a Leisurely Hitch hike from
At 1737 Sutter Street in