Friday the 13th, April 2012: Washington DC AALR Launch Party and Other Excitements

Morning, Friday the 13th. The complimentary copy of the Wall Street Journal had this Page 1 Headline: NORTH KOREA LAUNCH FAILS. Self doesn’t get very much into the article. She gets only as far as: “North Korea launched a multistage rocket Friday morning, again defying countries that want it to stop pursuing advanced weapons, but it blew up less than two minutes into flight and parts crashed in the Yellow Sea off Korea.”

Self is meeting an old Assumption classmate for lunch at Kinkead’s on Pennsylvania Avenue. Tonight is dinner with the other writers participating in the Edgar P. Richardson Symposium at the National Portrait Gallery, tomorrow. Massages at the Fitness Center start at $105 for the Classic Swedish Massage, $25 more if you want the massage in your room (So, that fixes that notion). Meanwhile, the husband can barely contain his excitement at being in Washington again, he hasn’t been here for almost three decades. Bright and early, he went off to the National Air and Space Museum, about a five-minute walk from our hotel, toting along his camera.

Last night, Lawrence’s parents took us to The Big Hunt for the launch party for the new issue of The Asian American Literary Review, the “Generations” issue. It was crowded and dark and noisy and everywhere were people having a good time. Self doesn’t know how she managed to down a glass of Jack Daniels on the rocks, in something like five minutes. This morning, while getting ready to go over her notes for tomorrow’s event, she opens The AALR copy she snagged last night at the reception, and is reading the various responses to the quote from Prof. Min Hyoung Song of Boston College:

“The notion of an Asian American literature emerged at the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s, when members of a generation just reaching their adulthood began to connect their commitment to left politics with creative expression. A few short decades later, we find ourselves witnessing a flowering of literature by Asian Americans that would have been hard to predict. Are there any continuities between the earlier generation of writers which first raised the banner of an Asian American literature and a later generation of writers which inherited it?” (The quote continues, but self is badly pressed for time here)

Here’s a response self enjoyed. It’s by Sunyoung Lee, editor and publisher of Kaya Press (who were at The Big Hunt reception last night, only self couldn’t pick her out in the crush)

“First off, it seems worth pointing out that any notion that we might have of Asian American literature is wholly dependent upon what someone at some point deemed worthy of publication. Decisions made by countless editors and publishers have been instrumental in shaping what we can even discuss as Asian American literature. And it’s more than likely that those decisions were made for reasons that had nothing to do with an interest in establishing or developing something called Asian American literature.

“That’s because a lot of the books that are considered to be a part of the canon are published by commercial presses.

* * *

Touché, Sunyoung Lee! The response by Allan Kornblum, founder of Coffee House Press, also gave self much to ponder.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Loving Every Minute

Self is in Washington DC, for the Edgar P. Richardson Symposium at the National Portrait Gallery this Saturday.

She cannot link, she cannot even choose fonts for this post. She decided to lug her old MacBook, and it proves to be sadly limited. But, hey, at least self can still post!

There are many “firsts” about this trip. For one thing, she had never met Lawrence-Minh Buh Davis, but now she has. Not only has she met Lawrence, she met his parents, who kindly volunteered to pick up self and the husband from Dulles (They live in Maryland. Far from Dulles, needless to say)

The weather in Washington is much nicer than it was in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here, it is almost balmy: self feels foolish for lugging along so many jackets and sweaters.

The one museum self really wants to see is the Hirshhorn. She heard that there is a unique visual exhibit, “Doug Aiken: Song 1” that allows viewers to see, from any part of the National Mall, a 360-degree convex cinema which features various artists performing the 1934 hit, “I Only Have Eyes for You.” The artists include Tilda Swinton, and “avant-folk singer” Devendra Banhart, as well as the participation of “street dancers, members of underground bands, even gospel singers.

The husband is totally relaxed and seems to be enjoying himself. After checking into the Grand Hyatt, we had a late dinner of cheeseburgers and nachos at the sports bar below the lobby. On the TV monitors: a game between the Boston Bruins and self forgets what other team. The nachos were sinfully tremendous. Self doesn’t think she can avoid gaining a few pounds, this trip.

Not only that, she downed her first glass of Jack Daniels on the rocks. It was so smooth, it went down her throat like butt-ah. And afterwards, self’s face was a bright tomato-red, and she had trouble inserting the room key the right way.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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