American Knees

I love this book for the sex. It’s different because it’s familiar. Familiar not because my partner tells me stories while we fuck (he doesn’t), like Raymond does for Aurora in this novel, but because this narrative sex feels real to me. It’s not just a string of sentences describing a series of stereotypical actions (kiss, disrobe, penetrate–in case you were wondering what those were). Instead, it’s a convergence. The meeting of two individuals. The stories they tell in bed are no less than their shared emotional depth made vocal.

And yes, there’s plenty of licking/nipping/biting/thrusting etc–which is fine. I’ve no complaints. But those verbs are not all there is to the sex. The love-making here is all human, no mechanics.

Anyway, I should note: this book isn’t erotica. It’s erotic, I guess. But at its core, it’s literary fiction. A delicate (and often indelicate) tale about being Chinese, and Japanese, in America–about the nuances of race, culture and identity, about individuals choosing where they fit (and wondering whether or not they have a choice as to where that niche is). It’s about humans falling in and out of love, with humor, grace and failure.

I read American Knees in preparation for MFA application season (still far off, I know, but there’s a lot of preparing to do). The UW is one of my top schools and Shawn Wong, the author of American Knees teaches there. I’ll soon be reading more of his work, but after this book’s humor, and quirky, intimate human interaction, I’ve no doubt he’s someone worth studying with.

And apparently, it’s a film.  Guess I’ll have to look into that.



Books read, 2013 (a–probably–incomplete list):

Prince of Thorns
Wonders of the Invisible World
Travels through Middle Earth, the path of a Saxon pagan
The Drowning Girl: A Memoir
American Knees
The Fox Woman


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