outwait outrun outwit


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10.28.03, tuesday night

Tonight I biked past a white lump of fur and blood on 4th. Someone must have been in quite a hurry to get to McDonald's.

. . .

More stories, buried in a pile of post-its and notebooks. Letters, also buried in that pile, waiting for their last sentences before being sent off like so many well-groomed chicks (my problem, I suppose, I should be happy that at least they're up and ready, even if hair is mussed and teeth needs paste and brush). Coffee and buns stuffed with shitake, peas and carrots in Chinatown. Man wearing bloody butcher's apron and smoking cigarette while watching traffic. Woman changing tire of silver luxury car in high heels and denim mini skirt. The painting styles of elementary schoolkids in 1977, examined via tiles laid on the facade of the Lincoln Community Center and painted with members of the Chinese horoscopal bestiary. Ship beached in playground sand, reminding me of a character in Cristina Garcia's Monkey Hunting, a Chinese man who migrates to Cuba as an indentured worker on a ship much bigger than this one.

Too bad I read Garcia's novel right after Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men. So far, reviewers for major publications have not gleaned the influence that the latter, written in 1980, had on Garcia, who "borrows" some of Kingston's details, character traits and metaphors. I might have liked Monkey Hunting when I was 20 - now it seems just another second-rate magical realist novel, the details often contrived or too secondhanded to be trusted.

. . .

Tomorrow I depart for NYC; tucked under arm will be Ben's annotated map and Luc Sante's Low Life, bookmarked with strips of paper bearing Fernanda's and Sri's phone numbers. . . Question from daughter of superstitious woman: Does crossing the path of a dead white cat bring bad luck?


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