The Washington Post
Wrack and Ruin: A Novelby Don Lee
An exhilarating comic satire with the quirky energy of The Wonder Boys and Sideways.Lyndon Song, a renowned sculptor, has fled New York City to become a Brussels sprouts farmer in the small California town of Rosarita Bay. Lyndon has a brother, Woody, an indicted financier turned movie producer, and Woody has a plan, involving a golf-course/p>/em>/em>
An exhilarating comic satire with the quirky energy of The Wonder Boys and Sideways.Lyndon Song, a renowned sculptor, has fled New York City to become a Brussels sprouts farmer in the small California town of Rosarita Bay. Lyndon has a brother, Woody, an indicted financier turned movie producer, and Woody has a plan, involving a golf-course resort on Lyndon's land and an aging kung-fu diva from Hong Kong with a mean kick and a meaner drinking problem.
A dreadlocked buddy with an artificial leg, a small plot of exceptionally lush marijuana, two field biologists studying western snowy plovers, a disgraced museum curator, and Lyndon's great love, the impulsive mayor of Rosarita Bay-these are only some of the complications in Lyndon and Woody's lives over one madcap Labor Day weekend.
Hilarious and philosophical, this many-hued novel about the landscape of contemporary "multicultural" America is critically acclaimed Don Lee's best book yet.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
The trick to reading Don Lee's wonderfully silly second novel (after Country of Originand a story collection, Yellow) is to take nothing seriously, even when you should. The book concerns the eccentric sculptor-turned-brussels sprout farmer, Lyndon Song, and his estranged brother, Woody, an uptight Hollywood producer. Lyndon's refusal to sell his farmland to a golf course developer results in an unwelcome visit from his brother, who has been secretly hired by the developer. The author has corralled an array of misfits and minor characters-Lyndon's friend Juju, a philosophizing surfer with a prosthetic limb, and Yi Ling Ling, a has-been kung fu film star-to season the backdrop of the brothers' misadventures and muster up some drama and didactic spiritualism. The novel's best sections are lighthearted in their delivery, but hint at deeper substance and self-reflection. At times the author starts pulling too adamantly at readers' heartstrings, but before long he's back to slathering on the sarcasm. This novel thrives on unlikely unions, unseemly humor and happy endings while maintaining a constant examination of family and identity, in keeping with the themes of the author's previous book. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Lee's second novel (after Country of Origin) returns to the fictional town of Rosarita Bay, CA, a bucolic location outside of San Francisco that also was the setting for Yellow, his short story collection. The book's central character, Lyndon Song, is a brooding Brussels sprouts farmer who was once an internationally acclaimed sculptor. The bastion of solitude Lyndon has created for himself is disrupted horribly when his brother Woody, a Hollywood movie producer, visits on Labor Day weekend. Woody's ostentatious ways and questionable ethics clash, as always, with Lyndon's quiet lifestyle; their coming together results in trips to the ER, crazy traffic chases, and multiple brushes with the law as Lyndon attempts to prevent developers from taking his land away. Lee's novel tries to be a wacky, madcap Carl Hiaasen kind of page-turner while occasionally taking a break for some philosophical introspection. Though sometimes fun, it's not that successful; the wackiness seems to take away from rather than complement its meditations. Recommended for large regional fiction collections.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Meet the Author
Don Lee is the author of the novels The Collective, Wrack and Ruin, and Country of Origin, and the story collection Yellow. He has received an American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, an O. Henry Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Fred R. Brown Literary Award. His stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review, GQ, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. He teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at Temple University and splits his time between Philadelphia and Baltimore.
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I adored this book. It had me laughing in public places and snickering into my coffee. All the characters had real flaws but Lee was fair--everyone was flawed. And what's more, I liked them the better for it. Lyndon Song, ex-New York sculptor and brussel sprouts-farmer extraordinaire, and his failed financier brother Woody, make a madcap pair amongst the other odd personages of Rosarita Bay, California. Lee was much more fluent in this work than in his earlier work, Country of Origin, and it seemed he was having a better time as well. The action and personalities seemed so very Californian to me, and since I live on the east coast, it felt like a trip away. A television series that gives me that same "quirky California" feel is Six Feet Under.