Friday, April 04, 2008

Egg fried life

The biographical blurb for Mei Ng's novel Eating Chinese Food Naked reads as follows:

"Mei Ng was born in Queens and lives in Brooklyn. She wrote Eating Chinese Food Naked while working as a temp."

And then you start reading the story itself, and meet Chinese-American Ruby Lee, who lives with her parents in Queens, works as a temp, and really wants to live in Brooklyn with her Jewish boyfriend Nick. OK, we don't know whether she's going to do it - her indecision, the cultural and emotional dialectics that pull her in two directions at once provide the meat of the novel - but everything is laid out in front of you. Ruby is Mei is Ruby is Mei.

And then, as you go along, you might feel the urge to Google Ms Ng, and you find other hints as to the resolution of the plot; but don't follow that link if you don't like surprises. Is real life just one great big SPOILER ALERT?

That said, the book's not bad. The title suggests an element of chick lit: but it's Noo Yawk ethnic slacker chick lit, which isn't so reprehensible. Here, Ruby's having a distinctly awkward conversation with her mother, Bell:

"Do you come?" Ruby looked down at her hands, which were minding their own business, switching a ring from one finger to another.

"What's that?"

"You know. At the end, when the guy... when the stuff comes out and it feels real nice. Women do that too. But without so much stuff. Usually." Ruby spoke slowly and deliberately, as if she were giving Bell a recipe.

"Oh, that. I heard about that. No, not me. I don't need that." Bell held herself a little straighter, differentiating herself from the women who did.

5 comments:

dh said...

I suppose (I always seem to be supposing on your blog) the corollary would be Girl With A One Track Mind marrying a Chinese bloke. Might be just what she needs to revive her flagging blog.

Mangonel said...

Well I have conversations like that with my mother ALL THE TIME and I don't know what the fuss is about.

Rimshot said...

"when the stuff comes out and it feels real nice"

Now that's painting a picture with words.

Spinsterella said...

"The title suggests an element of chick lit: but it's Noo Yawk ethnic slacker chick lit, which isn't so reprehensible."


...this should be on that Things White People Like blog.

And also - what Rimshot said. God, aren't books shit?

Tim Footman said...

GWAOTM gets bamboo fever, Dick. I like it.

Get your mum a blog NOW, Mangonel.

At least it's just words, Rimshot.

They are, Spin, but so's life.