Thursday, May 30, 2013

Books on the train: SORRY PLEASE THANK YOU by Charles Yu

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Sorry Please Thank You, by Charles Yu

No gray area here. You'll either really really love a Charles Yu story--or really really hate it. 

I'm interested in a number of things Yu is interested in. For example, "the idea that a plot that is supposed to loop can actually get away from you"; the creation of "a long, attenuated chain-link metaphor ... [using a particular language] to talk about...other things and have them function ... [as] an organic whole"; or what has been described as "practicing the grammar of different genres" and "exploring different rhetorical styles, voices, languages that we encounter in our lives as consumers and citizens."

When he gets it right, Yu  is really good. (See: "Standard Loneliness Package", the first story in the collection.) But Yu himself admits that he had trouble writing some stories in the collection because "they were simply ideas--not organic stories with ideas in them, but ideas that I needed to put people into...I [knew] from that get go that it's going to be hard to make this engaging for a reader."

Although there were stories I did not prefer, I really really liked a number of stories, which were not only incredibly accessible, but also thought-provoking.  Aside from "Standard Loneliness Package", I also liked: "First Person Shooter"--a zombie story; "Hero Absorbs Major Damage"--peopled by the characters that populate a computer game; "Open"--about a couple falling out of love and what happens when words begin to appear inside, and float around, their apartment; and "Yeoman"--which is about a character in a Star Trek-like universe.

All quotes are from Betsy Huang's interview with Charles Yu in The Asian American Literary Review, here.

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