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A new TIME article comments on the recent boom of an unlikely literary genre: Amish romance novels.
With books that tug on heart and bonnet strings and tales characterized by “humility, plainness and no sex,” G-rated authors like Beverly Lewis (see her latest, The Secret, at right), Cindy Woodsmall and Wanda Brunstetter have quickly risen to the rank of bestseller–without so much as showing a little bit of leg.
Perhaps in a society like ours–one that has fallen south into a hole so shameless, explicit and oversexed that we recognize our pop stars by tampon string and teen moms write “abstinence advocate” on the occupation line of their tax forms–the only thing left to taboo is modesty.
This idea sends me into a small fit of inspiration. Maybe there’s room in this playing field for another new kid in town–the Repectful Asian romance novel!!! Could there be something to the kind of love that my Hardass Asian Mama always tells me about? The kind I’ve always assumed is simply too, er, storybook to actually exist in real life but clearly may make for a captivating literary tale?
You know it goes:
Girl studies hard. Boy studies hard. Girl concentrates on school, learns piano and violin very well, no room for boys. Boy and girl respect parents. Boy and Girl meet at school and do not talk because they are busy studying. She would think he is very handsome, but does not think about boys in order to concentrate on her studies. Boy and Girl finish school at the top of their respective classes and go on to become doctors. One day, after the last day of residency, Boy–now Man, walks over to Girl–now Woman. He says, “I have never met a woman with a family so honorable. And you do not want to become an old maid.” She giggles from beneath her surgical mask. In a true climax, they arrange a meeting with both sets of parents to discuss a proper marriage that honors both lineages. They also promise to have many sons that will bring honor to the family.
Oh, romance! DO WE HAVE A BEST-SELLER OR WHAT? I THINK SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Filed under: Amish Romance Novels, Books, Concentrating On Studies, Hardass Asian Parents, Honor, Literary genres, Respect, Romance, Romance novels, Sexlessness, Shamelessness, Taboo, Tampon strings, TIME magazine, Trends
Three years ago, when Diana and I were kicking around book ideas, there was one that rose to the top for us, one we thought was pure gold. Its working title was: “How to Raise a Child Prodigy.” Although neither of us were prodigies–a fact that filled us both with regret–and neither of us were parents yet, we felt qualified to write the book anyway, because we were products of Hardass Asian Parenting, which was no different, in our minds, from Prodigy Parenting (see: the long, ever-expanding list of Asian prodigies). Plus, we imagined the book as a way to talk about what it’s like to be Asian American without getting heavy, a way to laugh at ourselves, something honest but still tongue-in-cheek. Of course there would be some non-Asians, aspirational parents in particular, who would buy the book for parenting tips and take it seriously…suckas!
Only we never wrote it. We started it as a blog, set to private, but didn’t get beyond a couple of entries. In hindsight, our lack of follow-through shines a light on two rather important details: 1) why we weren’t prodigies in the first place and 2) why we weren’t qualified at all to write the book. During that time, we did manage to bang out a long list of child-rearing ideas, ideas we’d been exposed to personally that we planned to explore in our little parenting guide. A selection of those ideas appears below, from a document dated March 2008:
Filed under: Amy Chua, Amy Chua Tiger Mother, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Books, Chinese Mothers, Chinese Parenting, Failed Prodigies, Hardass Asian Moms, Hardass Asian Mothers, Hardass Asian Parenting, Hardass Asian Parents, Memoirs, Mothers and Daughters, Parenting Books, Parents, Polarizing Figures, Prodigies, Tiger Mothers, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior Wall Street Journal
JEN! JEN! OMG, JEN!
Do you think Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng reads DISGRASIAN? Did she happen upon your quiet pleas that she channel her beautiful prose into a tome?
‘Ladder to the Moon’, Maya Soetoro-Ng’s first book, is inspired by Maya and Barack’s mother as well as by Maya’s four-year-old daughter. What lessons, the author wonders, might her daughter have learned from her grandmother had the two ever met? In ‘Ladder to the Moon,’ Maya Soetoro-Ng pays homage to her mother’s tradition of storytelling — and celebrates her mother’s enduring legacy of service — with an unforgettable story of love and compassion being passed along generations. Brimming with the beauty and magic of the night, Ladder to the Moon is a modern-day fable that will charm readers of any generation with its lush prose and timeless message about discovering one’s own strength. Illustrator and publication date are to be determined.
While–as the product of a fairly stoic, left-brained, Hardass Asian Family– I don’t quite understand how one can be inspired by their relations towards such gentle images of ancestry and beauty, I certainly do appreciate it.
Freakin’ fly me to the Moon, Jen! Can we get on some pre-order action?? Where is this book!!?!?
Known for: Inciting a street epidemic of googly-eyes (with his incomparable logo), showing his paintings and hand-painted eggs in galleries across the globe, authoring two photography books–Finger Bang! and Vacation Standards (new!)–for Rojo‘s Spanish imprint, and in general ejaculating a little piss, sex, and fun onto the stiff walls of the fine art world.
For you Angelenos, Tofer debuts his latest show, “Double Dip,” in Culver City’s Cerasoli Gallery on March 14th at 6pm.
…we’ve been killing some pretty serious couch time reading new contemporary adult fiction–Christine Son’s Off the Menu–today. And while we don’t frequently partake in the medium-sized print and expressive, decorated dialogue of most CAF (Disclaimer: we’ve both admittedly read Amy Tan’s opus The Joy Luck Club, and I openly wept while taking in Nicholas Sparks awesomely bad The Notebook on the beach in Puerto Vallarta), we couldn’t help but wonder what would come of Son, a Bible-belt Texasian (sounds like Jen!) who has done her parents proud by going to law school (sounds like my sister!) but has always dreamed of writing clever banter between friends and lovers (sounds like me!)–when she actually went for it and wrote a goddamn novel.
Some of it’s to be expected–Son’s primary character is an overworked, Texasian female lawyer who’s billing too many hours and dreams of ditching it all for a music career (as my grandma would say to my cousin, the music major: “Piano, painting, writing… it’s all the same. What kind of job are you going to get? Best to become doctor”). Her two closest friends are, similarly, well-achieved but secretly unhappy and want of something more. Sure, the prose isn’t Didion’s (but even Didion’s fiction was dreck compared to her genius non-fiction)–the author is seemingly obsessed with her characters’ cheeks, stilettos, and the zaftig chef character conveyed as explicitly, repeatedly, bang-you-over-the head fat.
But some of it’s kind of delicious, like family members in NASA, Hardass Asian Parents spouting perfect English, and frequent pepperings of the word y’all. And for its part, Off the Menu has kept tons of things off of my mind during the too-long free hours of this holiday weekend (like bills, work, anxiety about failure, and Mumbai)–so it must be doing something right.
Hails from: New Haven, CT
Occupation: Hardass Asian Book Reviewer
Why She’s a Babe: Because the 53 year-old, Yale-educated NY Times critic is notoriously hard to please. And she’s not afraid to savage overly-hyped douchebag writers who are used to being fawned over. (A few years ago, the late Norman Mailer called her a “token” and a “one-woman kamikaze.”) Also, her look is so very trapped-in-the-80′s. And because Michiko is something like a literary dominatrix who enjoys beating the shit out of books–and sometimes that brings pain, but other times, pleasure.
Read Michiko’s latest reviews here. And bring band-aids.
Says the gossip source:
Beatie, who first told his story on “The OPRAH WINFREY Show” earlier this spring, underwent gender reassignment surgery but kept his female reproductive organs and is now pregnant with his and his wife NANCY’s daughter.
The book is titled LOVE MAKES A FAMILY: A Memoir of Hardship, Healing and an Extraordinary Pregnancy and is set to hit stores on September 30.
Sounds like a pretty fascinating tale. But need we say it again? Writing a book is fucked–er, we mean, FUN!
When we learned that Scribner had inked a book deal with Tila Tequila, we laughed. Hard.
No, we don’t think it’s funny that Scribner thinks any fan of Tequila’s can read (“Hooking Up with Tila Tequila is the book her fans have been waiting for,” says the publisher’s release). And we certainly don’t find it laughable that the tome is to be called Hooking Up With Tila Tequila. What a clever title! We don’t even think that Tequila’s reasoning for penning her memoirs seem that unreasonable: “My fans write me every day with questions so I figured instead of responding and sitting there taking hours, I’ll just put all the answers in a book from all their questions” –because come on! Everybody knows that the best way to save a couple of hours is to write a book.
Scribner describes the insta-classic as: “Tila’s no-holds-barred thoughts on love, fame, happiness, and success and the remarkable story of how the child of Vietnamese immigrants singlehandedly harnessed the web to become the 21st century’s hottest sex symbol.”
Hey, we have plenty of advice for the girl–Jen and I actually spent the better part of last summer writing a book proposal. Good lord, was that a good time!! Two months of brainstorming, four months of writing, three weekends of intense creative retreats, seventeen book format ideas, fifty pages of bullet-pointed notes, 120 pages of brain vomit, fifty-six draft revisions, six completed chapters, forty-five nights of lost sleep, three mental breakdowns, one fight, two pseudo-tiffs, nineteen bottles of scotch, thirty-eight glasses of wine, fourteen moments of lost confidence, forty moments of lost mind, five printer failures, two creepy too-long encounters with a CopyMat employee, and about 34,567 shed tears. We worked through our issues with Bai Ling, I spent over twenty-four hours looking at photos of Tila, Jen sorted through our aversion to insanity until she felt insane, and I resolved my relationship with my own Vietnamese immigrant family. Funnily enough.
So of course, when we saw that Tila had decided to write a book, we laughed. Hard.
Last night, while celebrating the publication of Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music in lovely, oft-ignored Downtown LA, Christine Balance (shown rocking her accordian above) made a five-minute case for the pop listener’s re-contextualization of The Breeders’ vintage strummer, “Drivin’ on 9.” As she broke down her deep and sincere love for Kim Deal, I fell a bit in love with Balance–and was delighted to hear the shameless plug for her sweet isle-indie new wave band The Jack Lords.
Let their gentle ocean tunes take you away! And then listen again.
Reformed Actress Danica McKellar–and former wet dream of every boy in my junior high school class–has redeemed herself from a past filled with call sheets, auditions, and celebrity– by writing a book.
Sure, you could call her a washed-up child star with a hokey idea.
But at least someone finally agrees with us.
OK! Magazine has released a number of
staged awkward zzzZzZZexclusivezzZZZzz and zzZZznewsbreakingzzZZZzZzz rehab photos of Lindsay Lohan doing something unfamiliar: pretending to read a book.
Why do all of the celebutards do this? They act like they know how to read and write, almost as if they know which direction their eyes should travel over text:
Here’s the thing. I knew their kind in high school– they flirted with the Biology teacher, copied History outlines off of skinny boys, and celebrated–CELEBRATED–when they got a B (even those scarred with a “-”) on a test. Worst of all, as a reward for their mediocrity, their parents doled out money for infrequent A’s, and let them go out with their friends on the weekend even if they hadn’t finished their homework. All while I had my ass parked on a desk chair in my bedroom, staring at my Calculus homework and listening to The Jam, hoping to God I wouldn’t ever receive a “Most Improved Student” award because to my parents it represented once-upon-a-time failure. I knew my weekends sucked. I knew my life sucked. It took me years, well after buying my “Honk If You Love Pynchon” bumper sticker, to realize that something else sucked too: these effin’ bitches.
I leave their shit to them: they can keep their exposed poontangs, and their mug shots, and their multiple DUIs, and their ugly Kitson dresses, and their fluctuating weight, and their mind-bogglingly stupid interview bites.
So just leave me and my books alone.