Dixieland Sushi

Dixieland Sushi

by Cara Lockwood


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743499422
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 05/01/2005
Edition description: Original
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Cara Lockwood is also the author of I Do (But I Don't), which was made into a Lifetime movie, as well as Pink Slip Party and Dixieland Sushi, and Every Demon Has His Day, all available from Downtown Press. She was born in Dallas, Texas, and earned a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked as a journalist in Austin, and is now married and living in Chicago. Her husband is not a rock star, but he does play the guitar — poorly.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

To make honey, young bee needs young flower.

— Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid

The year was 1984, the evening of my tenth birthday, inside the Dixieland Roller Rink, also known as the local Rec Center. The basketball nets were up, the disco ball was down, and it was a Free Skate Friday night.

I wore my brand new Gloria Vanderbilt jeans with the hot pink piping and my favorite lavender-colored roller skates with the clear plastic wheels carefully decorated with sparkly, puffy silver star stickers and tried my best not to fall on my face as I coolly attempted to skate along to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," which was blasting through the speakers as the disco ball overhead spun in tune with the beat. I was on the outskirts of the skaters, avoiding the center of the rink, where the teenagers were doing advanced spin moves and wearing satin short shorts.

"Another one down, and another one down...Another one bites the dust..."

My birthday cake, topped with pink gel icing and a decorative plastic pink roller skate, sat on one of the long tables by the Ms. Pac Man and Frogger video games. I was ignoring (read: desperately trying to get the attention of) Kevin Peterson, my fourth-grade crush, who wore a very cool red Members Only jacket and black roller skates as he leaned against the roller rink rail. He, in turn, was doing his best to ignore me, a sure sign that he, too, felt the unspoken attraction between us. We were so blatantly ignoring one another that it should've been obvious to anyone that we had serious chemistry.

"Another one down and another one down..."

Kevin was by the rail where I should be, because it's hard to look cool wobbling about with your hands outstretched like wings, trying to keep your balance. If I fell, my too-tight, pre-the-invention-of-spandex jeans would rip straight down the rear seam in what would become a serious Therapy Moment. Luckily, I had on my training bra underneath my rainbow baseball T-shirt, which, as anyone knows, wasn't so much a support garment as it was a status symbol. It screamed, I don't have boobs yet, but they're on the way.

I glided to an awkward stop about ten feet from Kevin, under the pretense of adjusting my silver laces. I turned my back to him in order to complete my cool indifference, and to offer him a view of the strap through my T-shirt, so that if he was so inclined, he could come and snap it. But Kevin was too cool to resort to bra-strap snapping. He, in fact, had sisters. And a boy with sisters was far more advanced in terms of romantic strategy. He was what you would call a fourth-grade ladies' man.

I noticed for the hundredth time how much he looked like a younger version of Ralph Macchio. I'd seen The Karate Kid somewhere in the neighborhood of six times, partly because I had a small crush on Ralph Macchio, and partly because our town's one-screen movie theater played only a single show for two months at a time. Our small Southern town didn't offer the newest movies, or the newest anything, which accounted for the song selection at the local roller rink.

For a whole week, I went about talking in broken English like Mr. Miyagi ("Mama-san, Miyagi no do dishes" and so on), and stopped only after my mother, Vivien, threatened to ground me until I was fifteen. Still, standing so close to Kevin Peterson, I couldn't help but wish that I could conjure Mr. Miyagi and some of his wisecracking advice.

"Another One Bites the Dust" came to a close, followed by that awkward moment of the fade-out of a song, when the skaters paused in their moves, waiting for the next beat. My heart pounded in my small rib cage, and I wasn't sure if this was because of the proximity of Kevin Peterson or the fact that I had downed one too many "Suicides." This was my cocktail of choice at age ten: a mixture of all the fountain drinks at the snack counter. The drink had enough corn syrup and caffeine to keep me awake for three days.

After a second of silence, the opening chords of the theme song to The Dukes of Hazzard piped in over the speakers in a triumphant blare. A cheer went up from the free skaters. Everyone loved this song. It was, after all, the unofficial theme song for Dixieland (that is, Dixieland, Arkansas, population 10,230) and current Southern Pride, even if it came from a show that seemed to bolster all the ignorant southern stereotypes. At the Dixieland Roller Rink, it was a hit.

Even Kevin Peterson, stoic, cool, immobile Kevin Peterson, pushed himself away from the wall; he was going to join the skate. As he did so, he caught my eye, a perfect and subtle end to the Ignoring Phase of our courtship. This was a pivotal moment. He looked at me. He was about to extend his hand, to offer me a holding-hands skate, which was practically one step from a declaration of going together.

My mind raced ahead: First, going together. Then, going steady. Then, we'd be married and incredibly wealthy (Kevin would be a self-made millionaire industrialist and I'd be an internationally known freelance journalist — like Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers on Hart to Hart). We'd have a grizzly but lovable butler named Max and we'd tolerate his insolence because he was grizzly but lovable and he talked nonstop about how generous we were. Like on Hart to Hart, Kevin would wear expensive suits, and I'd wear impractical heels and big floppy hats, and we'd fly around in our private jet solving murder mysteries with the help of our scruffy dog, Freeway.

I was thinking of us, Max, and Freeway as I reached out to take Kevin Peterson's hand, which would seal my romantic destiny forever, when Grandma Saddie (short for Sayoku) and my mother, Vivien, appeared from nowhere, carrying a giant Tupperware tray full of foul-smelling sushi and pickled vegetables.

"Birthday treats!" Vivien cried, oblivious to the fact that she, wearing her slick black hair in a teased helmet, blue eye shadow on the lids of her almond-shaped Asian eyes, along with pencil-straight jeans, gold platform shoes, and matching elastic gold belt with the butterfly clip buckle, was Ruining My Life As I Knew It. The tray she and Grandma Saddie carried was stacked high with little cucumber rolls and inari (what Grandma called "footballs" for their shape) — fried tofu sacks filled with sushi rice — and what seemed like mounds of Japanese pickled cabbage, squash, and ginger, and a good helping of dried fish — ordered especially for the occasion from San Francisco — which all together gave off the powerful odor of toe cheese.

Now, in the privacy of my own home, away from the questioning eyes of Kevin Peterson, I would gladly have devoured the sushi and pickled treats. But under his gaze, as I saw the look of horror and surprise as the pungent combination of smells reached his nose, I found myself frozen with mortification.

"Ew," he breathed, his nose wrinkling, his calm exterior for the first time showing cracks. "WHAT is THAT?"

He could have meant anything — the neon-yellow pickled radish, the dried shreds of fish that look surprisingly like shriveled monkey claws, the "footballs," which, in the roller disco light, looked suspiciously like cat livers.

"Have a bite," my mother insisted, her Asian features hopeful. "Come on, we made all your favorites."

Kevin Peterson looked at the tray of food and then at me and declared, "You eat that stuff? Gross!"

Vivien and Grandma Saddie would've been better off offering me the chilled monkey brains from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. As I watched, helpless, Kevin Peterson skated away from me as if he'd been stung, never once looking back, dashing forever my dreams of drinking champagne on our private jet as we laughed over the misfortunes of the evildoer we'd just put in jail.

"What is wrong with you, anyway?" Vivien asked me, when I clambered out of the rink, pouting, my skates catching on the carpet skate-free zone, the voice of Waylon Jennings singing "And that's just a little more than the law would allow" echoing in my ears.

Copyright © 2005 by Cara Lockwood

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Dixieland Sushi 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
kikianika on LibraryThing 21 days ago
I've been meaning to read this book for over a year now, but somehow it's always managed to move just a spot or two down my TBR pile (I've never been good with keeping things in line). It's a nice book, even if the storyline is rather old and tired (Would I have thought that a year ago? I'll never know). The racial twist is both authentic and amusing, without being heavy-handed or over-the-top. A very enjoyable read that doesn't take stupid shortcuts with its characterisations.
bastet on LibraryThing 21 days ago
A cute book about a woman who's half Japanese and half Dixieland Southern.
shelleyraec on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Lots of fun - it was the references to stirrup pants, Karate Kid, Happy Days, Footloose, friendship bracelets and blue eye shadow that I loved. If you are a girl of the 80's then you are bound to enjoy the nostalgic factor :)
kikilon on LibraryThing 21 days ago
I've been meaning to read this book for over a year now, but somehow it's always managed to move just a spot or two down my TBR pile (I've never been good with keeping things in line). It's a nice book, even if the storyline is rather old and tired (Would I have thought that a year ago? I'll never know). The racial twist is both authentic and amusing, without being heavy-handed or over-the-top. A very enjoyable read that doesn't take stupid shortcuts with its characterisations.
ovistine on LibraryThing 21 days ago
This book is so much win I can't even describe it. First of all, the main character is a child of the '80s, and flashbacks to her childhood make so many pop culture references it's like reading one of those email forwards -- "If you remember this, you are a child of the '80s!" Better than that, though, it is the first book I have ever encountered (and I would fear the only one I will ever encounter, but she has at least three other books) featuring a Japanese-American/caucasian female main character. OMG. OMG OMG OMG. It has never occurred to me to want to see that because, growing up in the Midwest, you are so ISOLATED as a biracial minority. But. It is there. It exists. OMG. All the experiences are so painfully familiar it is just wonderful. Like a little literary miracle in chicklit form. I am so happy with this book my heart may explode. Right, right, so plot. Okay. The plot is about a woman from the South who has moved to Chicago and needs to go "home" for a family wedding. She needs a date, so she brings the totally hot and improbably-described Riley (you cannot look like both Colin Firth and Colin Farrell, for heck's sake. Likewise, you could not look like both Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. No no no), who she ends up developing quite the thing for. Lo and behold, it is requited! But still, hijinks must ensue. The writing is quite serviceable; nothing so spectacular it makes me want to praise Webster for helping the English language get to a point where it could produce this, nothing bad or inferior to an English-major set norm, either. I am delighted with this book. So much happiness. I wish I could recommend it to everyone with the expectation that it would get the same reception, but part of my love of this book is that it reflects my life experiences, and if you haven't got those, you won't get part of it. Still, anyone who remembers jelly shoes, the Presidential Fitness Challenge, L.A. Gear and such will get a kick out of the '80s pop culture references. :) And hey, if you ever wondered what it was like to be Asian-American/white biracial in a part of the States that doesn't have a lot of diversity, this is a great, great, great illustration of it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm 29 years old and this book took me back to the 80's. I loved how you got to go back to those times when she was younger. It was so much fun yet still VERY up to date! Cara Lockwood's BEST yet!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Easy to read, amusing. I enjoy an author with a sense of humor and she portrayed herself and her family with respect and, yes, humor. It was fun following along and I didn't even bother to try to guess the ending and instead let the author tell the tale. A good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book caught my eye recently while browsing @ B&N. As another Asian American woman growing up in a predominantly white community I TOTALLY related to this book. This is a great book and I'll definitely be sure to read the author's other books. So many other books I've read are funny, but this one really made me laugh out loud. The plot is great and characters realistic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so entertaining and perfect. I loved the pace, the character development, the plot, etc. I have never read any of her books, but will I ever now. I am telling everyone I know about this book! Wax On! Wax Off!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book for a car ride. It moved quickly, no slow spots. The characters were pretty realistic also. I didn't want to put it down. Highly recommended!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I've been a big fan of Lockwood's other work, this one is hands-down her funniest work yet! I was laughing out loud on the airplane. My apologies to the other folks on flight 1552. It's just that good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved it, loved it, couldn't put it down. Light, lively fast reading. Funny and well written. Get it and devour it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an Asian-American woman, I am attracted to novels with Asian references in the titles. I laughed out loud as I read this book. You fall in love with the Nakamura-Taylor clan and all of their idiosyncrocies. However, I gave it only 4 stars because Lockwood's explanations of common '80s references messes with the flow of the story.
harstan More than 1 year ago
While growing up in Arkansas with a Japanese American mother and White southerner father, Jen Nakamura Taylor felt like she never belonged. When she became old enough she moved to Chicago with plans to avoid her roots as much as possible. Her sister did likewise relocating to San Francisco. --- When cousin Lucy announces she and Kevin Peterson are to marry, the bride and her family including Jen¿s mother expects her to come for the ceremony. Unable to escape Jen needs to find a date, but not an Arkansas yokel. She persuades her best friend in the Windy City Nigel Riley to escort her home although she feels her boisterous clan will embarrass her in front of him. Riley has hidden his feelings for Jen that he keeps from her because he fears she only sees him as a pal. However, as she feels abashed by her family¿s antics, Riley seems to enjoy being with them. Jen starts to see things differently when she begins to realize they are her people and they love her just like she begins to see Riley in a different light. --- The aptly named DIXIELAND SUSHI is a terrific glimpse at the blending of races and cultures displaying how complex humanity truly is. Cara Lockwood switches back and forth between the present Jen and the teenage Jen so that the audience can see how much the younger felt displaced in Dixie while showing how the child becomes the adult. Though the ending seems less filling than the tasty tale that leads to it, readers will appreciate this deep chick lit look at interracial offspring.--- Harriet Klausner