Gentle Order of Girls and Boys

Overview

In this long-awaited new book by the "stunning" Dao Strom, four tales of love and desire reveal the complications of living in a modern global village

In this beautifully written, psychologically astute examination of the rites of female passage, the acclaimed Dao Strom takes us from girlhood to young womanhood, wifehood, and motherhood. Told in four sections, each story introduces us to a compelling young woman and the questions before her, ...

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Overview

In this long-awaited new book by the "stunning" Dao Strom, four tales of love and desire reveal the complications of living in a modern global village

In this beautifully written, psychologically astute examination of the rites of female passage, the acclaimed Dao Strom takes us from girlhood to young womanhood, wifehood, and motherhood. Told in four sections, each story introduces us to a compelling young woman and the questions before her, set against the jumble and noise of America today.

In this elegant rendering of the rites of passage, we meet four unique young women: Mary, a film student in college who is full of yearning but finds herself confounded by the casual give-and-take of the people around her;

Darcy, a twenty-something musician, who must confront the dark and unknown in the form of a naked stranger who repeatedly breaks into her ramshackle sublet;

Leena, aged thirty, isolated and alone after having been transplanted from Vietnam to Texas through marriage to an American businessman;

And finally, Sage, a new mother in her early thirties who finds herself, while on a road trip with her four-year-old boy and his father, entertaining thoughts of her son's preschool teacher.

With both shrewd insight into the moral perils of contemporary life and unwavering compassion for the missteps we make along the way, The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys is a major accomplishment from an exciting new talent.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Small moments carry enormous weight in these four loosely linked novellas about young Vietnamese women living in present-day California and Texas. Mary, a film student, feels compelled to find meaning in a brief encounter she'd had with the young, white Kenny. Darcy, a cocktail waitress in San Francisco who encounters an intruder in her apartment, wonders why she cannot be "the kind of woman you needed to be... one who kept up proper barriers." Leena, married to a successful white American businessman with whom she has a young daughter, finds suburban Austin somehow "less of a life than she'd bargained for." Sage, a half-Vietnamese singer and songwriter sexually attracted to a teacher at her son's preschool, searches for the people and place that will finally feel like home. For Strom (Grass Roof, Tin Roof), the most ordinary events-eating ice cream, swatting a fly-contain minor epiphanies that can delicately convey her characters' sense of disconnection and longing. Though such moments sometimes strain under the burden of significance, Strom, like her character Mary, more often wisely leaves her audience "a little wanting-she will do no interpreting for them." (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The complex experience of cultural assimilation is explored in achingly personal terms in this dour successor to the Asian-American (now Texas resident) author's debut novel, Grass Roof, Tin Roof (2003). Its four thematically related long stories all focus on disoriented women desperate to connect with spouses, lovers, family members or territories from which they no longer believe they've moved on. "Mary" is an Asian-American film student at a California college, blocked from artistic or emotional maturity by memories of an almost-boyfriend who never cared for her as much as she cared for him, and the father reported drowned when her family escaped from Vietnam, as "boat people." "Walruses" fashions creepy intermittent drama from the story of a young cocktail waitress and would-be musician (Darcy) continually harassed by the naked stranger who keeps breaking into her apartment. "Neighbors" is a road story, featuring the Vietnamese wife of an American businessman, as she cruises the highways with her young daughter, sinking deeper into introspection and isolation as she scans horizons, looking for an ever-receding "new life." And in "Husband, Wife..."-which echoes rather too closely the rhetorical texture of "Neighbors"-Sage, a rootless part-Vietnamese singer and songwriter, woolgathers during a car trip with her four-year-old son, over an inconvenient attraction to the boy's preschool teacher. They're all vagabonds, even when they seem settled and employed and, to one degree or another, centered, in these nevertheless loose and baggy stories. Strom can write efficiently and movingly about how inconsequential quotidian objects or experiences can rule our moods, and shows an occasionalflair for piercing metaphor (e.g., "Mary" climaxes with a sharply phrased faux-biblical parable). But her characters, despite their surface exoticism, are generic, and their inner torments grow increasingly redundant and unconvincing. Were these stories actually written earlier than Strom's affecting first novel? They feel like apprentice work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582433431
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2006
  • Edition description: 4 BKS IN 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Mary 1
2 Walruses 77
Interlude : view of mother 149
3 Neighbors 179
4 Husband, wife 249
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