Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Out of the family, into the cooking fire

Book: Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir
Author: Eddie Huang
Published: 2013 (Spiegel and Grau)
Pages: 272

So this is really fun. It's a memoir about a kid who was born in America to parents who immigrated from Taiwan and how he fought as hard as he could to distance himself from their culture growing up, only to discover it was waiting dormant all the time until he discovered he actually sort of loved it. See the kid in the cover photo?

It's reading that kid's thought as shaped by his quasi-gangster older ego. Lots of devious but righteous goofing off that meanders into full-blown rap-listening basketball-loving schoolyard fights-taken-to-the-streets rebellion. 

 His prose bounces around and snags slang into its rhythm like a good progressing hook, although it flattens out once he actually grows up and starts getting his stuff together. Success is boring, especially when he preaches about it a little too much, but I forgive him because he talks about food and flavor really well once his restaurant takes off.

 That's a running theme throughout, although not snobby at any point. He makes his best cultural connections through food because it's an international language that he can make his own and use as communication. That is something I so understand and I so appreciate someone being completely genuine about in a funny way that I don't *really* want to give this back to the library but I guess I have to.


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