Tag Archives: creative writing

Amazon author page

I have published some of my writings and they are available on my Amazon author page (link below). They are children’s stories under the name Toshiyori. Check out Oh Happy Dog, and Shu Shu’s Bright New Day

Toshiyori

 

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American Born Chinese; review

American Born Chinese; by Gene Luen Yang

Review by Mark Anderson

Yang, Gene L. American Born Chinese. 01st ed. N.p.: New York and London, 2006. Print.

American Born Chinese is a uniquely written illustrated novel. It has three parallel stories: central is the story of Jin Wang the son of Chinese immigrants that has an identity crises and internal conflicts with peer pressure to conform. Second is an allegory of the Monkey King. And third is a story of Danny who has a very strange cousin from China who visits annually. These three stories converge in the final chapter to resolve as Jin matures. The Monkey King allegory teaches the principle upon which true self-acceptance is based and which Jin must learn. The story of Danny shows an alternative life in which Jin gets to be transformed into what he desires, but it cost him his soul, as foretold by the herbalist’s wife. The novel is well crafted and deserves careful thoughtful reading.

The central story of Jin and the peer pressure in school shows that he is stereotyped and oppressed by the Anglo culture. Then the story of cousin Chin Kee uses hyperbolic stereotype to the point that it is kind of repulsive. The issue of racial stereo typing is confronted, but confronted in a sort of backhanded method. At this point we wonder if the author is confronting or encouraging racist stereotyping. We may question if this book is valid for a young audience because they may not understand the sarcastic irony. The key to understanding the author’s intention is the way the Anglo oppressors are portrayed. Their indulgence in racism is portrayed as negative. The teacher who introduces Jin as a new student is portrayed as grossly ignorant. A student comments that his mother has told him that Chinese eat dogs. As Jin is being bullied at lunch the boys say “Let’s leave bucktooth alone so he can enjoy Lassie” (33). Since the author does cast a negative light on stereotyping then we confidently interpret him as being anti-racist, and encourage young readership.

This story can be classified as a didactic-allegory which is the traditional purpose of allegory. It is a classic approach because it teaches in way that we do not realize we’ve been taught until it’s upon us. To varying degrees the struggle for self-identity is universal. As I read this as an adult I still have my own challenges with being secure in my identity. If I had read this and understood it as a teen it may have really helped my growth. The values presented in this book are based upon self-acceptance that is granted to all people by an authority that is greater than the false authority imposed by peer pressure.

The author uses allusion to Biblical literature and symbolism which give it a profound depth. In the second section of the Monkey King story (pg 68 – 71) a wise old sage with a shepherd’s crook appears and asks the Monkey King why he is so angry. The Monkey King resents being called a monkey but the sage claims that he is actually his creator. This infuriates the Monkey King even more and a struggle begins. Several allusions to Psalm 139 of the Bible are made with a quotation that makes an important point, “It was I who formed your inmost being, I who knit you together in the womb of that rock. I made you with awe and wonder, for wonderful are all my works.” (80). Yang teaches us the Biblical principle of self-acceptance that is based upon being accepted by the ultimate authority – our Creator. Psalm 139, especially the first 18 verses, has comforted many people who feel out of place or like a social misfit, or people who are objects of discrimination and oppression from other humans. It has taught many people that there is deep serenity in finding our place as creatures before our Creator.

My best friend in high school was second generation American of Japanese heritage. At that time I didn’t understand the depth of his difficulties in being secure in his identity among the peer pressure of American culture. I wish this book was available for my friend during his teen years. This book can help us all understand the oppressive nature of racism and help those oppressed claim the dignity that is rightfully theirs as bestowed by their Creator.

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2014

Works Cited

Yang, Gene L. American Born Chinese. 01st ed. N.p.: New York and London, 2006. Print.


Land of opps

California is without a doubt the land of opportunity for those with creativity and guts. In Southern California, 1963, my dad noticed there were no shoe shine boys in the town we had moved to. In all the big cities there were plenty of shoe shine boys, usually black kids standing out on a busy corner hawking their trade next to the paper boys. My dad put me up to my first job, shoe shine. He told me how to build a box to carry my waxes, brushes and snap towel. He also instructed me the right price to ask to ensure I would always get tips.

I started one beautiful Saturday morning riding my bike into town with my shine box hanging over my shoulder. I stood on a corner and didn’t have to call out or anything, men just started lining up for their shoe shine. Then I went to the car lot where my dad worked and about a dozen salesmen, including the owner, all had their shoes shined. One thing my father had neglected to instruct me on was the finer aspects of the art of shoe shining. My problem as a novice was that I would get wax above the shoes onto the people’s socks. It didn’t show much on dark socks but boy if a guy had white sox it was a mess! After a short day of work I rode my bike over to the bank and opened my first bank account. The friendly tellers seemed quite amused, but gladly made my deposit. This was really an incredible day for a ten year old boy.

I continued this Saturday job until we moved to another city a few months later. There is one thing my mother said that I will never forget. She said that one of our relatives had commented that they thought it was shameful that I would be doing that kind of job.


O my dog!

Kind of a poem, sort of;

I tried to put my dog in a box, a cute little box,

But he would not go in, just wagged his tail, wanted to play.

I tried to put my dog in a bigger box,

Do ya know what that dog said?

Now way I won’t stay.

Tried to put my dog in a big box, as big as my house,

but he ran away, would not stay.

One day I tried to get my dog into a huge box, big as my church.

He just turned away.

I tried to put my dog into the world’s biggest box, big as the sky!

I cried and said, “Why, won’t you please stay in my box?”

He just laughed at me and said,

“You silly boy, you can’t build a box big enough for me!

And I just will not stay, no way!”

Then my dog said to me,

“Welcome to my house, There’s plenty of room for you here!

Won’t you please come in?” So I did.

Mark a 2001


poem; Word smith

Word smith

Words wiggle free

Cannot be confined

imprisoned these

words that escape

floating freely

above intellectual

libraries of doom

 

words wiggle free

when held tightly

to confine floating

freely above all

human entrapment

singing they float

above, ascending

in circles to heights

where humans cannot

(copyright 2002 Mark A)


Worship, a metaphor

A sunflower in the field was gazing upon the sun. I walked up to the sunflower in the field and said in my most authoritative voice, “What are you doing just standing here gazing at the sun all day long? Can’t you get a job, or go to school? Can’t you prove yourself? What good are you?” Funny thing, the sunflower just ignored me, and kept on gazing at the sun.


As sunflowers are meant to gaze at the sun so we as people are created to have relationship with the creator. There are many voices that seem to carry a lot of authority that tell us that this is not important, but we can learn from the sunflower and maintain a steady focus on what is real. There are accusations against us that seem to carry a lot of authority but the one authority that really matters is the creator of the universe. We find acceptance with this creator through our savior Jesus. Speaking in another metaphor Jesus says, “I am the vine you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus guarantees that if we abide in him, or “gaze upon the Son”, we will bear much fruit. The fruitfulness comes out of the relationship. As a man there were many noble things that Jesus could have done with his life but look what he chose, love.

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple”.

Psalm 27:4


High school bully; Killer!

Do you want to hear a true story, a true story about a high school bully? I was sixteen, in high school, there was a fellow called killer, Steve Killpatric, alias KILLER! He was a couple of inches taller than me, though it seemed like a foot, big and mean looking, messy yellow hair and teeth to match, cowboy boots, sloppy clothes, and loud, mostly loud.

For some weird reason he picked out me to bother. “There’s that fuckin hippy Anderson” he would announce for everyone to hear. I really wasn’t much of a hippy, didn’t have long hair. But in ’69 not many of us did, mostly just bangs, tried to make it look long. I did wear hippy clothes, talked kool, (far out) and hung out with other social outcasts (freaks).

Killer would humiliate me right in front of everyone. His friends and him all sittin’ together, I would try to slip by unnoticed. Oh no! “Hey Anderson give me a quarter ya fuckin hippy”. I had seen a fight before, it looked so humiliating, every one standing around yelling for blood. But I didn’t want to get in a fight at all. Remember, peace, love, hippy? Well old Killer had my number and it just made his day to make me quiver!  Where did he get that name any way?

Well one night I went to a party, and it was dead as dead. So me and my buddy were just leaving. I opened the door and guess who was standing right there, face to face?  KILLER! Drunk as a skunk he shouted with joy “look who I found, the fuckin hippy”. He grabbed me by the neck, dragging out onto the porch and pushed me backwards against the hand rail. He was laughing and yelling about what he was gonna do to me! The porch was several feet off the ground, and was leaning back, way back. Then, in a breath, I’m fell backwards over the rail. My leg caught killer and we both went off the porch together in a move that would dazzle Bruce Lee! I did a little tricky bar flip and landed stumbling to my feet. But killer went up over my head and landed flat on his back, knocking the drunken slob out cold. All his friends like a bunch of cowboys at a rodeo were yellin’ “get up killer, ya gonna let that hippy do that to ya?” I had the chance of a lifetime to jump on him and really let him have it. But actually I was still afraid that he was going to get up and let me have it. Amazed, I stood there looking at him, brushed myself off and headed for the car. Ya know what? I never heard another word out of killer.