World Famous Love Acts: Stories (Mary Mccarthy Prize in Short Fiction)
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"An entire book of good stories. . . . [Leung] gains trust the old-fashioned way—through confidence, craftsmanship and compassion. There are no shortcuts here, no tricks or gimmicks, no glib patinas to conceal weak underpinnings. . . . This is a book about loss, twined irrevocably with hope, a hope that surges below the surface of all life. . . . Read [it] and see a bold new writer making himself vulnerable on the page. He gives us all hope."—Chris Offutt
Sweeping and fearless, World Famous Love Acts overrides stereotypes of race, age, gender, and sexuality. In this remarkable debut collection, Brian Leung creates a diverse landscape of distinctive characters. Among them, a 4' 10" hyperblonde Asian adult-film actress in Los Angeles, an archeologist working in China with her sun-scarred skin, a Midwestern screenwriter trying to "burn off" his accent, and a man with AIDS waiting to go home to die.
Loneliness and a persistent reach for meaning and comfort hold all these characters together. In "Six Ways to Jump off a Bridge," a Chinese egg-farmer confronts the solitude of old age after learning yet another person has made a suicidal jump from the bridge overlooking his home. In "Executing Dexter," two young boys from broken homes invent ways to torture and kill handmade dolls. And "Leases" takes place during "the time of morning to choose names for babies that will never be born" as a man waits to meet his wife in an apartment where for years he has brought male lovers.
Brian Leung writes like a true anthropologist, as both passionate outsider and gifted empath. His prose is crafted but genuine, both controlled and embracing. There seem to be no shoes he won't try on as he poignantly brings to life the search for a world of rescue and absolution.
Born to a Chinese father and Euro-American mother, Brian Leung is a native of California, where he is now an assistant professor at California State University, Northridge. He received an M.F.A in creative writing from Indiana University.
home.” I nodded. Daniel and Janice closed their eyes and leaned their heads against the windows and Zen fished a pair of sunglasses out of her purse, slipped them on, and reclined in her seat. And the three of them shut down as if they were toys who’d just been switched off. It wasn’t such a bad job. I was used to driving my father’s meat truck around Ypsilanti. That’s what I did before I wrote screenplays. I drove a truck selling meat door-to-door. It took me a long time, but after twelve
later chosen a good career for Susan when she went away to study engineering? She’d even met a nice Chinese boy. At that point, at least, everything seemed okay. What more could they have done for her? As he dries his hands, there’s a knock at the door and he knows it’s Katie. Parker goes to open it and catches a glimpse of himself in the dusty hallway mirror. He’s still in his terry-cloth robe, the sleeves rolled up for the dishes. The thin rim of his white hair bristles out all over. He
fiction. Recently I took a break from teaching. To make ends meet I judged four fiction contests. Two of them were specific to short stories, and the other two were dominated by collections of short fiction. I may not be an expert on the form, but I certainly know a little something about it. First of all, writing a good short story is the most difficult task a writer can face aside from producing monthly rent. Secondly, the people who read short stories love them, the majority of said readers
and an inch of topsoil. But after we were out of Missouri, everything got very flat and yellow for the longest time. Just fields occasionally broken up by stands of trees or single farmhouses. Farther North, the more the land seemed to swell up and become greener, and the taller the trees got. I started wondering about what the rest of the world might be like. III I haven’t been to the family home in Blue Falls in years. It’s a big white farmhouse with a wraparound porch. All wood. I wasn’t
driveway next to her car, indurate memories crowding forward. She will consider the burned ruins of her old house, and beyond that, the apple orchard with its dead rows, a few trees holding on, wild and spindly. The air will feel calcified, dry and thin in her lungs. She will steady herself on the car, waiting for the woman coming up the road, waiting for her to say what Desdemona suddenly fears, that she has come home too late. Drawings by Andrew Warhol Maybe you’re reading this in a doctor’s