detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Monday, August 05, 2002


: . Dogeaters Redux:

So Dogeaters, the play, will be coming out in book form come the end of this year. Sorry for rehashing all this, but why? The play was a failure in performance and unless Hagedorn has done some major revision I anticipate that the play will be a failure in print as well. With all due respect, this. (The novel, however problematic it may be, in my mind is still a masterpiece.)* Being the fool that I am, I can't wait to get my hands on Dogeaters II although I wasn't foolish enough to make an advanced order. Anyway, why can't Hagedorn just spend more time finishing her next novel? Hopefully it will be better than The Gangster of Love, a real letdown of a book even for her die-hard fans.

Speaking of long-awaited next novels, Ms. Magazine has included Ninotchka Rosca's short story Sugar and Salt in its Best of 30 Years Fiction and Poetry issue (Summer 2002). For those who can't get a hold of Ms. Magazine, Sugar and Salt was previously anthologized in Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction (edited by Jessica Hagedorn of course). Sugar and Salt is not one of Rosca's best stories although even her less succesful efforts are better than a lesser writer's magnum opus. The cynic in me suspects that the only reason the story was even selected as one of Ms. Magazine's "best" was for multicultural balance. A quick check of the table of contents reveals that the Ms. editors have chosen a story by exactly one African-American writer (Alice Walker, of course) and exactly one Latina/Chicana writer (Sandra Cisneros, of course). Ninotchka Rosca (of course) fills the lone slot for the Asian-American writer since I doubt that Ms. has ever published a story by the usual suspect -- Amy Tan. Anyway, as my copy of Charlie Chan Is Dead is more than a hundred miles away from where I am, as soon as I get a hold of this summer's Ms. Magazine, copyright laws be damned! Watch out for the full text of Sugar and Salt in this blog.

Among the list of books Ms. Magazine claims Rosca has written is At Home in the World (co-authored with Jose Ma. Sison of all people) published by Open Hand Publishing this year. Does anyone know anything about this book? Any insiders out there? I visited Open Hand's site and while At Home in the World is not included in its list of publications, Open Hand does seem to be the type to publish a work by Rosca's and Sison's. The reason? Open Hand has previously published Triumph Over Marcos by Thomas Churchhill which is described as:
    A true story based on the lives of Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo, their assassination and the trial that followed. Viernes and Domingo, Filipino-American cannery union organizers, were only twenty-nine at the time they were murdered. They had spent ten years reforming cannery workplaces, where bosses and mob-related union foremen were highly resistant to change. Both college educated activists, they angered many inside and outside the Filipino community because of their forceful, open fight for union reform and against the corruption taking place in the Philippines under the Marcos regime.

I may be wrong. There may be another Open Hand Publishing somewhere else. I have emailed the Open Hand Publishing that I found for more info on At Home in the World. I will post their reply as soon as receive it.

*Just read Ian Buruma's report on EDSA I Philippines to see the palimpsest of Dogeaters. Only Buruma, the "Asia hand" of the East Coast liberal intelligentsia, can read Rey Ileto's Pasyon and Revolution (!) and use its insights for Orientalist ends.

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