My earliest memory is visiting my dad at Ball State as he was finishing up his doctoral thesis and I was 3 years old and he had this tiny place while my mom and siblings stayed in Indianapolis in our house and my dad and I slept on the floor in his tiny place because the bed was a single and too small for both of us and I woke in the middle of the night and there, sitting on the edge of the bed, was a woman--a ghost--and she was staring down at my dad and I and I was so terrified that I closed my eyes and drove myself deep against my father and when we woke the next morning the ghost was gone and we had waffles for breakfast. Anyway, this is my painting. I like it.
So we hiked up #locvale in #rmnp with our new #yaktracks and after we made it up each icy climb/hill we'd yell YAKTRACKS! and then continued on, and so many people were so unprepared to hike and this poor Japanese guy was wearing sneakers and would get 10 yards up a hill and then slide back down the trail and afterward, like the next day afterward, as in today, Sunday, I'm reading the paper out front of the VFW and this elderly couple pass and the woman says to her husband "I'm thinking this is one of those situations where I should have brought my gun," and the man said, "That's your thinking?" and opened the door for her and they headed into the VFW and I wonder what Sunday situation calls for a gun and I also wonder how far up the trail that Japanese guy got before just giving up. Anyway, this is my painting. I like it.
Dealing with family, moving across the country, and tackling freelance work. It’s been a busy six months. And it’s been a minute since I broke off some time to sit down and read a book. Which sucks, honestly. Reading is one of those pleasures that spark thought and gets me exciting about my own writing, about the possibility of fiction.
Thankfully, my non-reading streak ended. And thankfully, it ended with Leland Cheuk’s story collection Letters from Dinosaurs.
From a father’s attempt to rekindle a relationship with his estranged son to a janitor puzzling out the mysterious “1776” stickers that appear throughout his office to a man’s life being reduced to bullet points on a page, Cheuk explores the fine balance between assimilation and maintaining ones unique identity. The eleven story collection delves deep into the human desire to belong to something larger than ourselves—whether it be family, community, or a even a corporation. Pulsing through the pieces is the need for normalcy, even if it means accepting absurdities. This idea is deftly highlighted in “League of Losers,” a story told via an email chain that debates both fantasy baseball and how best to commemorate the death of friend’s brother.
As with his debut novel, The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong, Cheuk’s Letters from Dinosaurs is sharp, funny, and poignant. It is a tightly crafted display of powerful writing that reminds the reader that, no matter our background or experience, we share common need to belong.