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Steer Toward Rock Hardcover – May 13, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Like a master of pen and ink drawing, each line implies physical being and movement, emotional attitude and change, and spiritual orientation. The drawing moves from being lines on a page, to expressing 2 dimensions, 3 dimensions, then movement across time and space, to insightful awareness of the interior landscape of feeling, knowledge of life lessons, and living by your convictions and the experiences that shaped you.
The prose is so poetic; this is a work to be savored. The way to read this book is not quickly all the way through, but gradually, so the comprehension unfolds and you can appreciate the depth and quality of feeling.
For those who have grown up in San Francisco, esp. living by Chinatown, there are many familiar references to places (some that are no more), food and experiences that are delightful. There are also stories that are painful and brutal, but are nevertheless our truth in growing up here.
This is a story about a man and his interior landscape, his poetic romanticism shown in the language of his thoughts, cares and worldview. This is about a man shaped by harsh beginnings, his acts in a world that doesn't understand him and the consequences of his actions. His is a world peopled by garrulous cronies, powerful enemies, and the women he loves.Read more ›
Fae Myenne Ng's concise prose is full of richness and insight. I felt compelled to read carefully, as I didn't want to miss anything. Her generational Chinese American characters have sharp and smart observations about themselves and their lives while living in San Francisco's Chinatown. They must navigate their way thru harsh realities during the McCarthy era, yet each character's journey is written with compassion; the joys, the obstacles and limitations voiced by indentured paper son immigrants and their fractured families.
However, the question what is worth sacrificing regardless of the consequences, is at the heart of the novel. What happens when one chooses to rid a false identity and begin creating a new one? What kinds of options are truly available? Is the potential for love worth risking deportment or freedom?
So the young man, who must make payments to his mob boss for the right to live, sustains himself at this ghastly moment. And :Steer Toward Rock" becomes the aphorism by which this novel's characters must live if they want to find meaning, family, and happiness. Impressive for its sustained obliquity, Fae Myenne Ng's book brought me into the Chinese culture in San Francisco's Chinatown like no other book ever did. She stretches this culture taut across a frame of trans-Pacific exploitation and racketeering. We learn of the purchased boy from China whose name becomes Jack Moon Szeto, a multiple falsity rooted in a scheme to allow illegal entry to Chinese immigrants. Before confessing his status to the American authorities, he becomes another link in the illegal and oppressive chain. He must take a bogus bride purchased for him from China, but here he finds companionship and eventually fathers a fiery, headstrong daughter.
This entire history leads to the daughter. This is really her story - how she hasn't steered toward the rock of honesty in her love life, but does free her father from the tangled, fear-ridden narrative of his past by shepherding him through the naturalization process.
I love the conversations between the Chinese men in San Francisco.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautifully crafted language. A lesson in family without guilt or obligation. The "steer toward rock," moment lifted off the page and into my soul. Read morePublished on December 17, 2012 by John Panzer
IF you love San Francisco,enjoy Chinese culture and want to get behind the mysterious facade of Chinatown then you need to read this book. Read morePublished on July 23, 2010 by Federico Gardiner
Steer Toward Rock artfully fills in missing gaps in American history about the Chinese Confession Program. Read morePublished on November 8, 2009 by S. Fang
Moving through my own history and stepping gingerly through Buena Vista Park. Touching my own streets of time I descend down stairs of Grant Street grocery stores and buy a wooden... Read morePublished on January 18, 2009 by Richard Schulman