#amreading public library

Book Events This Week.

I attended two different book events this week: one for Shanthi Sekaran’s debut novel, The Prayer Room; the other event for Yiyun Li’s novel, The Vagrants. Both were insightful for me, since I was able to see how authors organize their book events differently. Of course, the venues weren’t the same either: at Book Inc., Sekaran’s event was held in the back of the bookstore, a somewhat more cozy atmosphere. For Li, she held her event at the public library in one of the community rooms, so it was more like a lecture hall.

Shanthi Sekaran appeared to be nervous since it’s her first book tour; however, the excerpts she read from her book were promising and strong. I briefly chatted with her, and it was flattering that she recognized me from goodreads. I wish her the best of luck on the rest of her tour.

Yiyun Li read fewer excerpts from her book, but nonetheless they were also captivating. The story seems to lean more towards political themes from China, so it may take me some time to read through the book. I was more interested in the tips she was giving to the audience during the Q&A; the bits I liked the most was about her “literary heritage” (she aspires to write like an Irish author), and about how “a novel is like a marriage, while a short story is like an affair.” Both insights made me think more about my own background, and what I seek with writing. What kind of literary heritage do I have? Have I even established it yet? It also amused me when Li mentioned that one of her favorite hobbies is eavesdropping.

I’m looking forward to reading both books and also attending more book events in the future.

editing learning magazine public library

Fruits of Today’s Labor:

I went a little “crazy” at the SFPL today with writing books. I had intended on sitting down and skimming through the books, but the library was buzzing with people and there weren’t many convenient places to sit at. So, I simply checked out all the books and brought them home with me. I spent a good 3-4 hours at the library in the morning: perused through a couple issues of Writer’s Digest and The Writer to get some tips and write down some notes. In all honesty, it was the first time for me to look at the magazines, and I was pleasantly surprised to find so much information in both of them. I got a lot more ideas for promoting my works and, in general, improving upon my craft.

Tonight, I read through a few of my shorter works from last year; having trouble trying to edit them since I am all too familiar with the plots (or lack thereof). Also, I keep finding myself feeling stumped by the differences between novella vs. short story vs. flash fiction. Does anyone have an answer? I feel like I need some enlightenment in that area.

Asian-American My San Francisco Chronicles public library quotation race

Jennifer 8. Lee Reading at SFPL

(This post is coming…rather late. Backdating the entry)

Jennifer 8. Lee had a book reading event at the SFPL on March 26, 2008. The room was mostly packed with Asian-Americans; a little surprising and amusing to me. Lee’s slideshow was fun to watch and was basically a short summary of what was all in her book. I had managed to read all except 20 pages left in the book; really good read in general.

One quotation from the book that really struck me was this:

“Look at me, and you may see someone Chinese. Close your eyes, and you will hear someone American.”

This quotation strikes me because of how accurately it describes most of what Asian-Americans experience in this country…probably everywhere else in the world besides their homelands. I find myself always getting confused for a “foreigner”, wherever I go in the US. People don’t seem to believe me when I say I am American; they give me this look as if I’m crazy for thinking that Americans can be Asians, too.

Even in San Francisco, I get mistaken as being “one of them” in Chinatown. Although I guess it makes them less discriminating towards me, at the same time, it gives me an uncomfortable position when I actually have to speak and they realize that my Taishanese is really limited.

I don’t know why it’s such a hard concept–after all, isn’t the US known for its diversity? Yet, I guess Asian-Americans seem like a “new breed” to many people. Who knows.