HOME REMEDIES: STORIES is a debut quick story collection using creator Xuan Juliana Wang, whose voice in prose activates the subtleties and insights of poetry, even though it is not insistently “poetic.” Wang becomes my undergraduate innovative writing scholar some years ago at USC. Among some talented peers, Wang stood out.
Despite her publish-USC Wallace Stegner Fellowship and her Columbia MFA, Wang’s style has an authenticity that derives from a “global” workshop-unfastened attitude, an authorial fluidity that well-known shows a well-enlightened look at of person beyond all cultural expectations. Her characters are millennials and Chinese or Chinese Americans, but their lives, like Chekhov’s characters, are normal lives set in ambitious alleviation against the normal. The incredible seems and is magically absorbed into the familiar like an impressive new coat slipped on over antique garments.
Thus, in “Echo of the Moment,” a lonely young Chinese-American lady residing in Paris named Echo (one of the rare over-signs in Wang’s lexicon) is granted a danger at a new glittering lifestyle through a purloined high-style cloth cabinet, losing her already-tenuous feel of self by dressing up in some other’s identification. She turns into an “echo” of “a splinter-thin Korean woman” who committed suicide and whose closetsful of high fashion, left in the back of her condo, begins highlighting and erasing Echo. “How many want everybody who owns a pair of marbled horsehair boots want to die?” Echo asks.
Yet demise waits under the floor just like the misplaced aircraft reported in the information, “a red-eye flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing,” that has vanished, apparently without a hint. The international listen for the “ping” of the black field beneath the surface, but there may be no sonar, no echolocation coming from the downed wreckage, growing from the depths. Echo quickly becomes famous in fashion images, wearing the useless woman’s clothes, which, with understated creeping horror, health flawlessly. She reveals herself with a new paramour’s circle of relatives on “an ambassador’s yacht” off the coast of Crete, ingesting champagne, “suitable up” in her surprising repute.
A blue whale surfaces suddenly, swimming parallel to the yacht’s length. As the other passengers attain over the side, looking to pet the whale’s excellent forehead, Echo stays on an excessive deck, staring at once lower back at the whale’s looking eye. She realizes that the leviathan is toying along with her, with all of them, in a super fissure that the handiest seems to be fact: “Look, the attention said, I’m just humoring you, you small insignificant being. You? You’re not even well worth killing.”
To convey that rapid murderous judgment using Nature in its bold, abrupt apparition — floating simply at the edge of melodrama — is a feat of inventive talent past maximum debuting (or experienced) writers.
But Wang manages this epic grace and rite in tale after story. In “Vaulting the Sea,” a young boy, Taoyuan, is sent away to boarding faculty and then is skilled as a diver. His driving talent is matched by his roommate’s. Taoyuan and Hai collectively train each hour of the day in synchronized dives. They end up well-known, an incomparable athletic duo, as they teach for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing:
In the air, they have been one frame contemplated in a replicate—a dancer in a glittering spectacle whose pirouettes start and quit as fast as a flash of lightning. The more potent diver ought to compensate for the weaker ones, and while not having to make eye contact, Taoyu knew wherein Hai became within the air at all times. He knew Hai’s eyelashes could contact his knees on the primary revolution, and then his warm breath would burst out in front of him on the extension. To the human beings in the stands, they seemed like two wings of a single chicken.
This passage lifts off for the reader into lyric beauty and then erotic particularity. Notice how the perspective shifts rapidly from the widespread to the 0.33 individual and again to the accepted. This lightning-brief progression matches the trajectory of the dive and mirrors the sexual act itself. In tandem, our bodies in the glowing air over water also articulate the name of the game’s unstated ardor of one diver for the opposite.
Taoyu’s hidden choice for Hai tortures him, yet miles of their flying acrobatics in the air and water keep him connected to this forbidden longing. Taoyuan “knew simplest that what he changed into feeling become incorrect” — and this understanding overpowers him. Yet, their proximity as bedmates inside the faculty dormitory reproduces their diving dance and its effect on one partner:
And who’s to mention if one boy’s coronary heart beat too fast when their fingers touched? Or one man or woman was trembling while the other slept. Or maybe in a nightmare, they wrapped their hands around every other, their eyes closed, turning and struggling till the suffering ceased.
Here, the anxiety is held in restraint simply sufficient to permit the sizeable power of the erotic blaze in both frustration and success.
China’s social politics are on view underneath the surface, wherein we find that equal intercourse love stays unwelcome and hetero circle of relatives lifestyles is paramount. Wang’s description of submerged passion is riveting now, not due to repressive legal guidelines, but howbutcause she has captured the physicality of longing aloandility. From both, the energy of artwork emanates in language, sculpture, portrayals, and dance.