My favorite writer, Maxine Hong Kingston lectures in creative writing at U.C. Berkeley. Although, there is no way I could get into Berkeley’s English program still I wish there was a way to attend her lectures. Until I find a way to meet my talk-story mentor I will glean wisdom from her books. The following is a sample of her brilliance:
” I wanted the BBC to show the world a multicutural, multiracial America. Every time we go to war, we’re in schizophrenic agony. Whoever the enemy is, they’re related to us.”
– from the Fifth Book of Peace by Maxine Hong Kingston
More to come–especially on re-writing, shortly.
I finished the 5th Book of Peace, but could not find the desired passage. Perhaps it was in Tripmaster Monkey.
More from the Earth chapter which features Maxine’s traveling writing worksop for war veterans:
Hopper’s Last BBQ
I was overwhelmed to find out the smells that had me salivating were coming from my cooked buddies. There was a pile of ashes with three lumps in it; the lumps were the air crew. I had partied with the enlisted men just the night before. Of the three commerades, two were my friends; and they were cooked just right.; roasted in a magnesium fire. of the entire unit at the crash site. only myself and a Black Sgt. has the intestinal fortitude to put our buddies in to the body bags for the trip back home. While the rest of my squad was puking their guts out on the perimeter security, the Sgt. and I bagged our air crew. I held back my tears even while I had boots and other body parts come off in my hands; like pulling a drum stick off a roasted turkey. After bagging the men, I fell in as one the perimeter guards. While looking though my tears, I had a chicken-shit Sgt. order me to help carry the body bags down the hill. I told him that if her didn’t have the balls to bag our men, then he didn’t have enough to do with anything. He tried to order me to carry them, so I flipped me “16” on to auto and invited him to join the others in the bags. Luckily, our lieutenant came up to use and told the Sgt. that he should not push his luck. Thinking back on the experience, I has no qualms about personally sending that Sgt. to God. If he had not backed off, I would’ve blown him away and bagged his remaining body parts.
The remembrance of this occasion brings on a depression, and sometimes rage. The smell of hot metal (such as a hot skillet) or burned barbeque meat, brings back all the emotions of disgust, sorrow, rage and I can be terrifying to those around me.; mainly my family. “why is Daddy so mad and hollering at us and acting like he’s going to kill?”
A Reason Why Men Go to War
I need Edie and Larry to be an example to us, show that it is possible for a veteran to come home and be married. I wonder, but I can’t ask. How can you read Larry on being “fucking horny” on R&R? How can you bear to know that? That men go to war to fuck the enemy girls and women. American boys went to Viet Nam to lose their virginity.
He caught the chopper and took off amid ground-fire shelling “Outta here! Goodbye, Dau Tieng! Good bye, Viet Nam!” (“Outta here” is still current slang; American want out of wherever.) He reached down for the November Playboy on the floor of the chopper. Slithering out from under his seat–a cobra. He couldn’t shoot it; he couldn’t run out the door. Cobra want outta here too:
I look down and to my left and here’s a cobra, head down,trying to crawl out. I look to my right ad here’s the middle of the same cobra coming out from between the seats. I hadn’t noticed her ’cause I was scrunched down; the vibrations from the rotor must have waked her up and now I am sitting on top of her as she heads back for the Garden.
Thay tells a story about himself as a boy searching for an missing a famous hermit. But near the hermit’s hut, he found as well with the clearest, sweetest water, drank from it, and was satisfied. “I found my hermit.” I get it: he’s always trying to convince us not to bother him.
A bohemia of friends
I said, “Write it down. Name it. Put it into words. When you read the words, maybe it will come back. Maybe it can be passed on to readers. At least, the words will remind you that once you had this knowledge.”
Each time you rewrite, you’re going back into the tunnel and bringing more knowledge out. You can safely examine the explosion again and again. You will see it more clearly, see more details and make better sense of it. You shine more light on some question, problem, hard time, suffering, memory, ignorance. You will return to the core event and you will return home a different person. The story changes and you change.
Signing a Lease
Whitman felt envy, that she could think up such a vow. She had had the upbringing of a blonde American person. One reason you espouse yourself to a White person: access to more of the world.