Tag Archives: vietnamese

Gargoyle #61 and Other Updates

I’ve made my selection for my week of guest editorship at Smokelong Quarterly. It wasn’t easy; there were a number of really great pieces. Even pieces I could see myself loving very deeply, had they not had a fatal flaw or two that said to me they weren’t quite ready for submission. The selection I made was everything I look for in a piece of flash, was elegantly executed, closed in a way that resonated back through the rest of the piece. I’ll be excited to see it up.

In other news, a short story I’ve waited nearly a year to see released has come in Gargoyle #61, along with many other great writers and friends. This was one of most dear pieces to me, one of the first times I wrote candidly about racial shame. There’s a strange and fairly universal phenomena in being a visible minority, since you live your whole life being compared against the dominant culture, and that’s a deeply-seated sense of shame for being born the way you are. Everyone grows out of it at a different rate, but that shame can manifest into guilt, into rage, into self-hatred. I wrote a character that experiences all of this well into adulthood, and has to come to terms with his own racial identity. Plus, there are squid and lots of linguistic playfulness. The result is titled “The Message of My Skin.” Order a copy, if you feel so inclined.

I’d also like to an extend a very heartfelt thanks to editor Richard Peabody, who recently let me know that my story was one of Gargoyle‘s Pushcart Prize nominations. I’m incredibly honored, not only to be included in Gargoyle’s rich history in American independent literature, but to have my work represent it for the Pushcart. I can hardly believe it, really.

Lastly, a recent piece of mine has been picked up by another indie press I’m rather fond of. More on that later. 🙂

Forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine!

I’m ecstatic to announce that I’ve just had a story accepted to Gargoyle Magazine. Like my piece in Big Lucks, this will run in 2014, so it’s a ways out, but all the same I am honoured to have my work appear in such a fabulous publication with such a deep local history. The story, titled “The Message of My Skin,” is one of the more honest pieces I’ve written. It takes place in the neighbourhood that I grew up in–coincidentally the neighbourhood Gargoyle is based out of and which I more or less still live in–and discusses Vietnamese crime in the Washington, DC area. I am humbled.

So the year 2013 is somewhat lacking, though I have done much revision in the past seven months. I think this thing will go in waves of creativity and then re-working, so I’m going to not let myself become too anxious about my dried up well of creative energy right now. I’m happy to know that I’ve secured some publications in 2014 and that they are two very different stories. Compared to my earlier published work, I think that my range is growing and my voice is becoming clearer. Very happy for that.

Until next time.

Acceptance to the Kartika Review!

I’ve another short story accepted for publication, this time to The Kartika Review. Very rarely do I ever write anything that stems from being Asian-American. I’ve actually taken great strides to distance myself from that identity. I want to be known for writing great stories, not for writing great Asian stories. I think Nam Le sums up how I feel on the matter best:

My relationship with Vietnam is complex. For a long time I vowed I wouldn’t fall into writing ethnic stories, immigrant stories, etc. Then I realized that not only was I working against these expectations (market, self, literary, cultural), I was working against my kneejerk resistance to such expectations. How I see it now is no matter what or where I write about, I feel a responsibility to the subject matter. Not so much to get it right as to do it justice. Having personal history with a subject only complicates this — but not always, nor necessarily, in bad ways. I don’t completely understand my relationship to Vietnam as a writer.

Hoan Kiem Lake’s giant turtle

I wrote this story after my girlfriend and I broke up (right around the time this blog was started). I was fairly distraught over the idea of suddenly being alone again and needed to write out my grief, sense of loss, and abrupt solitude. I didn’t want to do a break-up/divorce story (I seem to do those best when I’m not feeling like that). Somehow, the news article I read about a giant turtle from Vietnamese legend being discovered sick came into my mind and provided the backdrop for this story. I found myself writing about Vietnam for the first time in my life, but there was enough distance (and subtle amounts of fantasy) that I could do it without necessarily being very personal about the whole process.

The Kartika Review is a journal with a themed focus on the experience of Asian-American diaspora. Honestly, I could never write about my experience with that diaspora. It almost seems like whining. But I’m proud of what this story – originally very cathartic, raw, and super cheesy – has turned into. I’m happy and extraordinarily grateful to have it face the publicAfter, of course, the editor takes a knife to it. 🙂