Best known for his public battle with Shaquille O'Neal over Shaq's "ching-chong" taunts of Yao Ming, writer and journalist Irwin Tang is again making a scene.
How I Became A Black Man and Other Metamorphoses is a collection of eight hilarious and heart-rending stories that spring from Irwin Tang's life and surreal times.
In this debut collection's most bizarre story, "thing," an unidentifiable object asks, "What am I?" Answer: In the title story, I am a Chinese boy growing into a Black man. In "Eatiful," I am an existentialist waiter who undergoes a digestive epiphany in the restaurant bathroom. In "Two, One," I am an idealistic hip hopper tempted to sell out to maintain a friendship with my dope-dealing "Siamese twin." In "Cheese," I am a family torn asunder by a block of government cheese.
Set in a small Texas college town, the eight stories play off each other in theme, symbolism, and style. Flying food, wonton innuendo, the obliteration of identity, the dead and their upheaval, coolness and goodness, the continuation of continuation, Confucius, breakdancing, World War II, Barbie and Ken, and the Tangsta are all bound together in this delightful volume. In a world of staid fiction, Irwin Tang is a fresh-voiced neophyte whose biography and kaleidoscopic worldview infuse each of these often surreal stories with authenticity, reverence, and goofy humor. While a search for identity haunts these stories, they cohere, ironically, to form a complex portrait of the author.
|Publisher:||It Works, The|
|Product dimensions:||4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)|
|Age Range:||13 Years|
Read an Excerpt
I was not born a black man. I was born a Chinese man. But it was at birth that I resembled most what I am - a black man.
I strutted out of the womb with a full Don King afro. My kinky, spirally hair whipped upwards like spitting black flames burning my yellow scalp. Strangely, as I grew up and became more and more a black man, I lost more and more of my afro. The hair straightened more and more each year, until, by the time I hit puberty, with my straight black hair and my high cheek bones and my almond eyes with their still-tight under-shells, I looked deceptively like a Chinese boy. The straightening of my black hair as I realized my black manliness is a painful irony that ever fails to escape me.
When I was eight years old, our family watched, with religious ferocity, the TV mini-series Roots. In Roots, the great black writer, Alex Haley, told us the story of his ancestors - of their capture in Africa and their enslavement in America. Roots told the stories of their lives. I realized then, especially when I was forced to do yard work, that I was a slave just like Haley's ancestor, Kunta Kinte.
One Saturday morning, my father woke me up at the crack of dawn: "Wake up! Let's pull the weeds in the garden and mow the lawn."
"I ain't pickin' no cotton today, suh!" I said.
"What? I don't understand you. Speak Chinese."
"I wish I was a Chinaman, livin' free in the Forbidden City!"
"Get up or get spanked!"
"You can whip me all you want, Master Tang, but one day I's gawn get my freedom, and then it's no mo' auction block, no mo' pint o' MSG!"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a great book, a gem from an asian-american author that will bring back memories and will give the reader glimpses into events that shape a human being. It' a cross-section of very colorful coming-of-age stories and will grip you from Page One. The short stories are bold, with bits of humor so funny that'll force you to laugh out loud, causing concern and confusion among the people around you. I have to warn you, though, some of the stories go into deeper topics about the darker side of life, so well-told that the characters become friends. The author also includes, I believe, a very personal stream-of-consciousness reflection of life, towards the end of the book. Although a bit odd since the style is completely different, it is interesting none the less once you've absorbed it. At first you'll wonder what he's talking about, and then as you're sitting around at 6am in the morning, wondering why you're up so early/late, groggily looking about you to see the trees and plants and people moving about - all of the sudden, you'll understand it. He closes the book with an example of the truth - our friends and family are always a part of us, even when they are no longer here, and life goes on. This is one book that is so intimate and personal, that you truly do laugh and cry with.