Book Sale at Asian American Curriculum Project

There’s a tiny Asian American bookseller in San Mateo, CA called the Asian American Curriculum Project (aka AACP). They hold readings a few times a year, but, even more important, they send out a valuable newsletter that features interviews with and articles about Asian American writers. The newsletter also includes an updated calendar that keeps you informed of festivals and events that might be of particular interest to Asian American readers.

In the latest issue, I saw they had a book sale. So I go down the list of discounted books and much to my surprise and delight I find my very own Mayor of the Roses. Yes, that’s right, if you sign up for the newsletter AND order by Nov. 20, you get 20% off the publisher’s list price of $13. WHAT A BARGAIN!

Come on, you know you want it.

Here’s the the list of discounted books and the sale announcement:

Visit the website at

The following books are discounted for subscribers to the newsletter. The discounts on these books end November 20, 2006.

Becoming Almost Famous
My Back Pages in Music, Writing, and Life
By Ben Fong-Torres
2006, 249 pages, Paperback.

Ever wish you had a backstage glimpse of the music world? Becoming Almost Famous is just that. This is writer and editor Ben Fong-Torres’ second compilation volume of some of his favorite articles on the rock and pop music, and entertainment scenes. Ben Fong-Torres’ is one of the true eyewitnesses to more than three decades of music history. His added prologues and epilogues to his original articles give you further insight into this fascinating world. This is definitely a hard book to put down.

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ORDER — Item #3430, Retailed Price $16.95 … 20% Off Sale Price $13.56

Akira to Zoltán
Twenty-Six Men Who Changed the World

By Cynthia Chin-Lee
Illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
2006, 32 pages, Paperback.

Akira to Zoltán is author Cynthia Chin-Lee’s follow-up book to Amelia to Zora which highlighted women that changed the world. In this book men from different fields, including the arts, exploration, and science as well as leaders of peaceful movements are featured.

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ORDER — Item #3431, Retailed Price $15.95 … 20% Off Sale Price $12.76

The Great Race
The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

By Dawn Casey
Illustrated by Anne Wilson
2006, 30 pages, Hardback.

The Great Race is a new retelling of the myth behind the creation of the Chinese zodiac calendar. The Jade Emperor holds a race among the animals with the top 12 finishers having a year named after them. The Great Race includes an informative appendix about the animals of the Chinese zodiac and about some commonly celebrated Chinese festivals.

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ORDER — Item #3432, Retailed Price $16.99 … 20% Off Sale Price $13.59

Mayor of the Roses
By Marianne Villanueva
2005, 181 pages, Paperback.

Mayor of the Roses is a collection of well-written short stories by Filipina American author Marianne Villanueva. Her writing draws you in and keeps you reading even when the subject matter may be quite violent or sad. Warning, the first story is not appropriate for young readers.

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ORDER — Item #3433, Retailed Price $13.00 … 20% Off Sale Price $10.40

While We Were Out
By Ho Baek Lee
2003, 29 pages, Hardback.

While We Were Out is a delightfully cute story about a rabbit that explores her owners’ home while they are away. The rabbit’s sojourn of the dwelling and left behind evidence of her visit will amuse children and adults alike.

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ORDER — Item #3429, Retailed Price $15.95 … 20% Off Sale Price $12.76


You know, I am really, really glad October is almost over, and that it’s going to end with me handing out Halloween goodies tomorrow night. The last couple of years, I’ve either been out of town or teaching on Halloween, and I missed seeing the kids traipse up the front steps in their weird and glittery costumes.

So, tomorrow night I’m going to be home, snuggled on the couch with the beagles and watching the network broadcast of the 1988 movie Pumpkinhead, starring Lance Henriksen (He played the android Bishop in the Alien sequels ; and had a bit role as a police lieutenant in the first Terminator movie).

I’ve stocked up on my favorite candies, two bags each of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kat Crispy Wafers. And I’m telling myself that whatever’s left over I’ll bring down to Cal Poly when we visit son for Thanksgiving. But deep down I know that even before the last tiny trick-or-treater has traipsed down the sidewalk, I’ll be tearing into those Reese’s and Kit Kats and will probably have nothing left in a few days.

Now I’m also looking forward to next year, and I’m very excited to open the annual Stanford mailing announcing this year’s readers for the Jean and Bill Lane Lecture Series. There’s always at least one writer I want to go and see. Last spring they had two, and I got to hear Richard Ford and Li-Young Lee within months of each other. Bliss.

So, this year’s line-up:

Reading Monday, Nov. 13, at 8 PM in Kresge Auditorium:

RODDY DOYLE, author of THE COMMITMENTS and PADDY CLARKE Ha Ha Ha (which I’m ashamed to admit I couldn’t finish)

Reading Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007 at 8 PM in Kresge Auditorium

IAN McEWAN, author of FIRST LOVE, LAST RITES; the Booker Prize-winning AMSTERDAM; ATONEMENT; and his latest, the post-9/11 novel SATURDAY

I can tell you that it’s really Ian McEwan I’m ga-ga to see, and I’m so happy that he’s reading on a night when I don’t teach an evening class. See some of you there (I hope)…

Books Whose Rankings I Have Looked Up on Today …

My own, of course: 1,221,307 (Ha ha ha ha ha ha!)

Andrew Marshall’s The Trouser People: A Story of Burma in the Shadow of the Empire: 191, 795

On your mark, get set ….

Some upcoming readings:

at the Redwood City, CA Main Library
1044 Middlefield Road (at Jefferson)
Redwood City, CA 94062
Nov. 9 (Thursday): 7:30 – 8:30 PM

at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of the American Indian
Fourth Street and Independence Ave., S.W.
December 8, 6:30 – 8:30 PM

I’m participating in a Filipino Literary Panel as part of the Smithsonian South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival. My co-readers are Peter Bacho, Luis Francia, and M. Evelina Galang. Come to hear us talk about the sources of our inspirations and the impact of Filipino American writers on American literature. For more information, please visit

Books I Am Interested in Reading (After Perusing the Oct. 22, 2006 issue of The New York Times Book Review)

(1) After reading Nathaniel Tripp’s review of Michael Weisskopf’s Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57 :

Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57

(2) After reading Toni Bentley‘s review of Alex Kuczynski’s Beauty Junkies: Inside our $15 Billion Obssession with the Beauty Industry:

Beauty Junkies: Inside our $15 Billion etc.

(3) After reading Colson Whitehead‘s review of Richard Powers’ new novel, The Echo Maker : The Echo Maker

(4) After reading Neil Genzlinger’s reviews of Ken Jennings’ Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive World of Trivia Buffs and Bob Harris’ Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in “JEOPARDY!” :

Bob Harris’ Prisoner of Trebekistan

(5) After reading Marilyn Stasio’s “Crime” column, two books by Icelandic crime writer Arnaldur Indridason: Jar City and Silence of the Grave

(6) After reading Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s end-paper essay, “Cabin Fever” : Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Books I Am Interested in Reading (After Perusing the Oct. 15, 2006 Issue of the New York Times Book Review)

(1) After reading Megan Marshall’s review of Antonia Fraser’s Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King: Love and Louis XIV etc.

(2) After reading Liesl Schilinger’s review of Caroline Weber’s Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution and Sena Jeter Naslund’s Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette:

Caroline Weber’s Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution


Antonia Fraser’s Marie Antoinette: The Journey

I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.

This evening I get an e-mail from student Yuliana. She’s the cute tennis player at xxxxx community college who looks like Anna Kournikova and has a similar effect on the guys. Here’s what she said:

Dear Professor:

I’m concerned about my grade! In this essay, you directions weren’t very clear, you said to pretend as if you are writing a letter to a legislator, which to me sounds like a professional essay, which is based on facts and research. The essays that you picked out today were stories, there were no research in them, and they were personal opinions. They had no quotes or citations. And because you picked to read them in class, made me feel that they were meant to be an example. I’m not saying that they are bad, not at all, but they are not what your directions said. My essay is not a story; I didn’t know it was suppost to be a story, and I feel like now I’m going to be graded down. You haven’t graded my paper yet, so I don’t know, but I’m scared. I went into this course wanting to get an A and I don’t know if that’s even possible anymore, because most of my essays were graded down, even though I followed the directions. I went to the writing center, and I have spent a lot of time on this draft, this class is very important to me, and I feel like I can’t succeed.

I’m sorry to bring this on you, but i just want to know what can I do to do better, because I really really really need an A!!!!

Thank you for your time, Yuliana V.


Football Season

Who among you, oh loyal blog readers, have a football-loving husband? Mine is absolutely crazy about American football, and has been for years, ever since he set foot in the good ol’ US of A.

Funny, he hates sports himself, and his most strenuous activity is walking the dogs. But he can sit on the couch and watch American football for hours. (He also watches Manchester United and Arsenal, but that’s another story entirely.)

I tell you this because I’m in the middle of a deeply fascinating book, Zoe Heller’s What Was She Thinking?, which was nominated for the Booker Prize several years ago.

It’s about a 42-year-old teacher and her affair with a 15-year-old “fifth-former”, as they’re known in England.

I had just returned from the ODU Lit Fest, I had tons of catching up to do– grading, etc.– but I found myself staying up until 1 AM last night, reading, even though I knew I’d show up with tremendous eyebags for my morning class at xxxxx community college.

Then, this evening, I curled up on the couch. Things in the novel were coming to a head. I itched to know how it would all turn out (bad, of course). Gossip was beginning to spread. 42-year-old sexy teacher seemed stunningly impervious. I had reached p. 211 (the novel is only 258 pages long) and holier-than-thou narrator, Barbara, was trying to get up the courage to confess to 42-year-old sexpot that she had betrayed her secret to a colleague.

42-year-old’s 17-year-old daughter has run away from home. Sexpot calls narrator to come over and commiserate. Her husband is elsewhere in bowels of huge English house. Sexpot winks at spinsterish narrator Barbara and confesses: “Of course I was also up very late last night with Steven.” (Steven being the randy 15-year-old.) Sexpot “grinned naughtily.”

“I’m afraid I did a rather dangerous thing,” sexpot confesses to spinsterish Barb. “I sneaked him into the house after Richard (the husband) and Ben (the son with Down’s syndrome) had gone to bed. We were in the basement together for an hour.”


At this point, just as every hair on the back of my arms feels like it is standing on end, so engrossed am I in this marvel of a novel—

“OOOOOOOOHHHHH,” my husband bleats in my ear.

Which is precisely what I felt like shouting, at that very moment (along with other choice epithets), at this marvelously stupid character.

How uncanny the man’s timing is.

I look dazedly at the TV screen, where assorted men in white and blue uniforms are scrambling around.

“Is that the team of that guy, that TO, who tried to kill himself?” I ask, trying to pretend that I’ve not gone partially deaf.

Uh-huh, hubby says. He has a wicked gleam in his eye. In fact, he looks like a cat that has swallowed a mouse. Assuredly, he must have peeked over my shoulder and known that I was at this most crucial point in my reading. Is there such a thing as men’s intuition, I wonder? And how did it happen that I, a writer, have ended up with a man so marvelously endowed with the uncanny ability to know what actions will MOST disconcert me…


This festival is turning out to be– well, pretty darn good. Was quite down-in-the-dumps yesterday over absence of Mayor of the Roses, but am now fully recovered. Other than a few minor mishaps this morning (such as spilling coffee over myself while foolishly trying to manipulate room coffee maker), I am feeling happy. Even managed to glance over the copy of the local paper, The Virginian-Pilot, that they leave outside my door every morning. Very helpful, that.

On the front page today are photos of Thelma Drake, Republican, and Phil Kellam, Democrat, who are running against each other for a seat in the U.S. Congress. On p. A3 there’s an article on the five soldiers who are awaiting trial for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Mahmoudiay, Iraq. On p. A5 is an article de-bunking claims that DHEA steroid supplements and testosterone patches slow the aging process. I read this article with more than passing interest. Conclusion seems to be that, no matter how much we try, we will all grow old. Helpful thought.

Last night’s main reading featured Dagoberto Gilb. This author has a kind of shambling charm. He walks on to the stage and starts simulating an absent-minded professor. Shuffles papers, takes his wristwatch off and makes a great show of positioning it on the lectern, asks Tim Seibles how much time he has, etc. etc. Then he launches into the oh-my-God funniest rendition of a true tale about his pal Riley whose predilection for getting high did not prevent him from acquiring a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from UTEP.

In the intros, Dagoberto was revealed to have been a carpenter. He says he told no one about his writing. I first heard about this man in the pages of The Threepenny Review. In the 1990s, he and I appeared in several issues of said literary mag. Now he has gone on to acquire an agent and publish many other books. Let me tell you that the auditorium last night (which looked like it could seat a good 300-400 people) was packed.

Started to worry about my own reading, later today (at 1:30 PM). I do not have the shambly charm of Dagoberto. In fact, my voice is rather thin and wispy. Also, I am very short, barely five feet, and I worry that no one will be able to see/ hear me from behind the podium. Failed to anticipate this problem and brought only flats. Oh, well!

Yesterday, met a grad student named Berry and his Filipina daughter, Angel. Turns out Angel’s mother left and is now in Japan with her new boyfriend. She left Angel with Berry.

Berry seems like a well-meaning dad, but when he tells me, right out of the blue, that two years ago he and Angel were evicted from their apartment, that the bank froze his assets and the two had nothing to eat, I throw an alarmed glance at Angel, sitting in the back seat. She is poker-faced but seems to be breathing rather quickly. “Are you all right?” I ask her. She nods silently. She says she’ll skip class and try to make it to my reading today.

Neck aches, but what can you do. Only one message from English 1A students (bad). Amy Hoffman finally replies: she likes my review of Dao Strom’s latest and will publish it in the Women’s Review of Books (success!)

Hmm, what else? Oh, yes, last night a few of the writers, including myself (and I shamefully admit to taking advantage of every opportunity for a free meal), were treated by Tim Seibles to dinner at Magnolia Steak. Wonder if I can try that again tonight, which will mean the third night in a row that I get the freebie dinner. Last night, could have sworn Tim cast a skeptical look my way when I walked in. Maybe will find alternative dining spot tonight. I hear Freemason Abbey, walking distance from the hotel, is quite good. Interestingly, the restaurant is located inside a 127-year-old church, which sounds enticing.

(To be continued…)

Alas, poor author!

Tragedy has struck, oh loyal readers of my blog.

I am here at Old Dominion University’s Literary Festival, an event I have been blogging about for months and months. I arrived right on time at Norfolk International Airport with hair still perky and neck not too bad (considering I’d just spent seven hours sitting in that sardine tin otherwise known as United Airlines Express Flight No. 7678). Got to attend my first reading, Bernard Cooper’s, after first meeting assorted greats (Dagoberto Gilb, Tim Seibles, Patrick Rosal, Jon Pineda, and aforementioned Bernard Cooper) at Asian fusion restaurant on Granby. Had tuna sashimi liberally laced with wasabi in a kind of “Z” pattern– not bad; also, imbibed alcohol– Jamaica Me Crazy, a mango with rum blend that made me feel slightly fuzzy but was just the ticket for loosening my tongue so that I at least gave the approximation of being “sparkly” and vivacious.

Dinner over, was ferried to the Chandler Pavilion for Bernard Cooper’s reading. Afterwards, stopped by book display table. And– um, there must be some mistake, I say to young man in charge of selling. Where is my book, Mayor of the Roses? Young man stares blankly at me. Sinking feeling in my stomach.

There is Patrick Rosal’s latest, My American Kundiman. There is Jon Pineda’s Birthmark (beautiful; I’m reading it right now). There are at least four books by Bernard Cooper.

But where, oh where, is my poor Mayor of the Roses?

Frantic call to ODU Bookstore the next day. Many apologies from store manager. Apparently, because of an oversight, manager neglected to order this one book, out of all the books ordered for the Festival.

My latest! The fruit of many years of hard toil (fifteen years, if you must know–a span of time in which I seem to have magically morphed from “new Filipina discovery” to “has-been”). No, no, no, how can this be?

Heart is pounding, chest is palpitating, feel light-headed. Immediately pick up phone to front desk– where is the nearest place I can get a hot stone full body massage?

Down the street, at MacArthur Center (Interestingly enough, this mall, which I’m told is one of the most upscale malls here in the Hampton Roads area, is named after the General MacArthur, that man whose sonorous “I shall return” to Filipinos in long-ago World War II supposedly kept us going through the dark dark days after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. But, I digress.), there is a spa on second floor called Dillard’s.

I pick up the phone book, find the number for Dillard’s (after first calling the operator to get the area code for the Norfolk area, so that I can call from my cell phone instead of incurring room charges– writers have to be careful with their money! I know, I know, massages are not cheap, isn’t this rather contradictory? But writers are, as far as I’m concerned, walking contradictions.) make an appointment for full body massage. “I want your best!” I practically yell at man who picks up the phone. “I want a massage as soon as possible!”

He cheerfully obliges with the name “Tiffany”.

Will report back tomorrow on whether Tiffany’s ministrations were successful in alleviating my depression …

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