*grouches* This novel was even worse than I originally thought it would be after reading a few of the trade reviews. I am once again underwhelmed by Asian-American literature. At least there wasn't any vindictive streak. I guess only the women Asian-American writers do that.Huo, T. C. A Thousand Wings. New York: Dutton, 1998.Summary
: Successful Southeast Asian cuisine caterer Fong Mun befriends fellow Laotian Raymond, who is too young to remember his heritage. Fong Mun recalls his childhood, fleeing Laos to Thailand and eventually the US in the wake of Communism, indelibly linked to the food he ate and longed for. Comments
: I'm still waiting for a chef novel that's actually INTERESTING. If Huo weren't a gay Asian-American of rather unusual ethnicity, I doubt he would've gotten published at all--that a publisher as prestigious as Dutton picked up this debut at all baffles me. The prose is inelegantly simple, uncharismatic, and, at times, awkward, and you will find yourself unable to give a cracked penny for Fong Mun's rather banal childhood tribulations. He, in comparison to other people of his time and location, I would imagine, was never in much danger, and a decent portion of his malnutrition seems self-inflicted. We get a little bit of angsting about how he is often mistaken for a girl and derided as a katoy
(sissy), but even bigotry lacks resonance here! Shyam Selvadurai does a much better version of a similar narrative in Funny Boy
. Really, the only parts I enjoyed at all were the all-too-brief chapters of Fong Mun and Raymond's first day together; it all would've worked SO much better had Huo simply scrapped all the heavy-duty coming-of-age subplots and written a sweet, run-of-the-mill romance. Notes
: hardcover, 1st edition, out-of-printRating
- Skip it. The best part of this novel was simply knowing that it was over and done with.