The Gangster of Loveby Jessica Hagedorn, Jessica Tarahata Hagedorn
? Nominated for The Irish Times International Fiction Prize? The author's first novel, Dogeaters, was nominated for a National Book Award in 1990 and was voted the best book of the year by the Before Columbus Foundation.Rocky Rivera arrives in the U.S. from the Philippines the day that Jimi Hendrix dies. So begins a blazing coming-of-age story suffused with the
? Nominated for The Irish Times International Fiction Prize? The author's first novel, Dogeaters, was nominated for a National Book Award in 1990 and was voted the best book of the year by the Before Columbus Foundation.Rocky Rivera arrives in the U.S. from the Philippines the day that Jimi Hendrix dies. So begins a blazing coming-of-age story suffused with the tensions of immigration which finds Rocky moving from the counter-culture in 1960s San Francisco to the extravagant music scene in Manhattan of the 1980s.The Gangster of Love tells the story of the Rivera family as they make their new life in the States-all the while haunted by the memory of the father and the homeland they left behind. Among its members are Rocky's haughty mother, who has impulsively left her father; Voltaire, her brother, prone to heavy depression and odd friendships with strangers; and Rocky herself, unsure about sex and worshipful of her boyfriend-the guitar-playing Elvis Chang-who must learn to accept reality amidst the myths and lures of American success and idolatry.
In the States, Raquel "Rocky" Rivers discovers her rock-and- roll self: She and her depressive brother, Voltaire, idolize Jimi Hendrix. While she scribbles pseudo-Beat poems, he wanders San Francisco's Tenderloin, where he meets aspiring rocker Elvis Chang. Rocky turns 18 and becomes Elvis's lover; they launch a band, The Gangster of Love, with Rocky on vocals. Despite embracing America's pop culture, though, Rocky still feels some loyalty to her overbearing mother Milagros, a spitfire who left her unfaithful husband back in the Philippines and who clings to her old world customs. A sexual prude despite her posturing, Rocky comes under the liberating influence of Keiko von Heller, an artist and free spirit who gradually becomes a pop celebrity. Moving to Los Angeles with the band, Rocky gets to spend time with her uncle Marlon, a gay actor with AIDS, who dreams of going home to die. The band eventually finds some modest success in New York, based on one briefly hot single. Rocky ends up working at a New Age clinic, still obsessing about her family. She eventually replaces the mercurial Elvis with Jake, a solid fellow who works as a recording engineer; they have a daughter, Venus. When Milagros, "the queen of self pity," arrives in New York, she haunts the Imelda Marcos trial and harangues her daughter. Sudden shifts in voice and tense are jarring and ineffective, and the several dream sequences Hagedorn injects are expendable.
A diffuse, sometimes frustrating, narrative of a young woman's coming of age in a strange land, with some compelling, if generic, scenes of cross-cultural misunderstanding.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Meet the Author
Jessica Hagedorn is the author of the novels Dogeaters and The Gangster of Love, Dream Jungle, and a collection of poetry and short fiction, Danger and Beauty.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Being in the same age group as 'Rocky' the main character and also being filipino-american it was easy to relate to her story. The americanized filipino spirit, quirkiness and proudness was captured. Her mother is very flamboyant and vain. Her family members are very typical to many of my relatives. Although knowing the very strong catholic background of most filipinos I was surprised at Rocky's ease in exploring the psychadellic experience. The coverage of the 'Marcos trial' was very funny. The family relationship was a roller coaster ride but yet kept close family ties. Throughout the book I was tickled many times. It was an enjoyable read.