May 5, 2015

Book Review: My Chinese-America: Essays by Allen Gee

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Also visit Teaser Tuesday at A Daily Rhythm.
My Chinese-America:Essays by Allen Gee
Published April 1, 2015; Santa Fe Writers Project
Genre: literary essays

Book description:
In the first collection of essays by A Chinese-American male to be published in over a decade, Allen Gee writes about aspects of Asian American life in a detailed, eloquent manner, looking at how Asian-Americans view themselves in light of America’s insensitivities, stereotypes, and expectations. My Chinese-America speaks on masculinity, identity, and topics ranging from Jeremy Lin and immigration to profiling and Asian silences. 
The essays have an intimacy that transcends cultural boundaries, and casts light on a vital part of American culture that surrounds and influences all of us. (publisher)

My comments: 
I was both amazed and delighted at the frankness of some of the essays on the subject of Chinese-Americans in the U.S. Allen Gee is forthright and honest about some of his experiences and observations, yet he also shows how in touch he is with ordinary American life and how he lives it every day with his American wife and children, and his American creative writing students at Georgia College. 

His topics range from racial stereotyping of Asians to his practice of non-violence in dealing with physical and emotional challenges in his daily life. He shows himself also as a hunter and fisherman, in tune with his surroundings and American life,  but also in touch with the perceptions of other minorities and ethnic groups in a multi-cultural country. 

This collection of essays is frank in its assessments and also eye opening for those who are interested in the point of view of a group in American society who are often seen as silent, nerdy, possibly weak except in the area of academics. It shows many sides of the Chinese-American experience, and especially the one experienced by Allen Gee. 

Objective rating: 4.5/5

First paragraph, first chapter:
In mid-July during a summer when I wanted to remain in only one place, my mother called from upstate New York and asked. Won't you visit? You aren't going to miss your father's sixtieth birthday, are you? And what about Matthew? she reminded me, speaking of her first grandchild - my nephew- who was almost nine months old. You should see him now. He's trying to walk, and you should hear hin laugh. Can't you leave work for a while? Hers was a selfless voice that strove to weave connections, that valued community and the continuity of tradition. 
About Allen Gee
I grew up largely in Albany, NY, but spent a lot of time in NYC, visiting family there. I attended the University of New Hampshire, then the Iowa Writers Workshop, and finally, the University of Houston. I'm now a Professor of English at Georgia College. I live on Lake Sinclair, in Milledgeville, GA, and often volunteer at Andalusia, Flannery O'Connor's farm. My wife, Renee Dodd, is also a writer. Her terrific novel is: "A Cabinet of Wonders." I have two daughters, Ashley and Willa. My favorite pastimes outside of reading and writing are: running, fishing, traveling, hiking, and backpack-ing. I went fishing up in Alaska last summer, and I want to go back again.

Thanks to Serena Agusto-Cox of Poetic Book Tours and the author for a review copy of this book for its book tour.

Visit the tour schedule for more reviews and information 

21 comments:

  1. Harvee, I enjoyed your post about Allen Gee's collection of essays. It sounds interesting and insightful.

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  2. I do love the way that mother was able to make coming home sound wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

    Here's mine: “DAUGHTERS-IN-LAW”

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  3. I am so glad that you enjoyed this collection!

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    1. I like the refreshing candor, shining a light on important issues, Serena.

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    2. I was hoping I could find bloggers who appreciate that kind of candor. I love those kinds of books.

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  4. This sounds fascinating. I'm always interested in how cultures mesh.

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    1. How they mesh is as interesting as how some things don't, Suzie!

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  5. Sounds like a fascinating look inside many aspects of the Chinese-American culture. I'm intrigued!
    My Tuesday post features ELIZABETH’S LANDING.

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    1. Though thee are many different languages and customs among the Chinese, many of their traditions are the same!

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  6. Sounds like a very interesting read... will keep an eye out for it.

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    1. Already published, JoAnn. Don't know how many libraries have it.

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  7. I think this sounds like a very enlightening book. We have 2 nieces who are Chinese. Maybe not for them yet, but at some point. I'll keep it in mind. And thanks for sharing it!

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    1. The book may not be as relevant by the time they grow up, Kay. We hope only the positives will remain.

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  8. What a lovely opening to this interesting sounding book - this isn't a culture I know anything about. Here is my Tuesday post https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/first-chapter-first-paragraph-may-5/

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    1. Some things are universal, I think, Cleo, especially a mother coaxing a grown son to come home for a visit!

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  9. Based on the first paragraph and the author info, I'd read on. This sounds like my kind of book/author.

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  10. I would definitely try this one. Thanks for sharing Harvee.

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    1. Glad I joined the book tour for this one, Diane.

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I love getting comments and your thoughts...