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Books Craft

The Sense of an Ending

I think a lot about the craft of writing. The poem, the essay, the short story and the novel each have their own internal rules, all of which are to be broken if a writer wants to achieve something new. Lately, my obsession has become short form. The short story has all the same requisites as […]

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Family ghosts Shanghai

A Death in the Family

Last month, my Aunt Ruth died. She was my father’s only sister and his favorite sibling. We called her Guma (姑妈) (father’s sister), just as her children called my father jiujiu (舅舅) (mother’s brother). The Chinese are very particular about family relationships. There are words to distinguish an older brother from a younger one and […]

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Family ghosts Shanghai War

War Without End

War in China. These soldiers are headed for the Japanese front. It’s 1944 in Luzhou, a river port in Sichuan province. In the back row from right to left are my father, my Uncle Charles and my Aunt Viola’s youngest brother. My father waited to enlist until he had graduated from university. By then, the war was […]

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Chinese-American Craft poetry

The Language of Blood

Few authors venture to write in a language that is not their mother tongue.  It’s hard enough to write. Why make it any more difficult by adapting a new vocabulary, grammar and syntax? Some might even call it a betrayal of country, home, blood. the chinese typewriter My grandfather wrote in English. Born and bred […]