Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America
Wong, Rita, Herizons
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY PRESS, NY, 2000
The editors of Take Out suggest that "the best anthology is one that makes you reconsider the genre and audience it claims to represent." This strategy of shifting the burden of representation away from the text towards the reader is an effective one, in part because Take Out presents such a wealth of poetry, prose, drama and visual art that no simple generalizations about Asian queerness can be easily made.
This new publication by the New York-based Asian American Writers Workshop seduces, excites, entertains and challenges. My only caveat to Herizons readers is that the ratio of men to women in it is almost three to one. I think the book would benefit from having more women contributors, but apart from this one criticism, Take Out is full of stories that grip, poems that slide straight into the blood.
"Your hand a small warm shark dreaming in the reef of my heart." In "Physics," Lisa Asagi finds so many ways to keep the reader moving. Such a river of words that I swim eel-like, hungry, smooth.
Minal Hajratwala's poems haunt our family closets: "And if you parrot/the family's secrets far and wide, falsify/to brighten your own hue,/then we are blood kin indeed,/bitten nail and yellowed teeth,/shiny hair thick as weeds,/and tales of did-me-wrong,/did-mewrong. …