Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice: This first story is a view into the life a young Vietnamese writer in Iowa City, who is up against a deadline in his writers workshop. He scoffs at the idea of stooping to writing an “ethnic” story, but with his father’s visit, he decides to write the story of his father’s experiences in My Lai, South Vietnam army, and the tortures of a “reeducation” camp. Through the interviewing of his father, the relationship with whom has always been strained and somewhat distant, possibly even abusive, both come to understand one another better.
Cartagena: Nam’s writing style in this short story is reminiscent of Cormac McCarney’s. The lack of quotation marks and the quick changes of settings are disorienting, adding the sense of surrealism in the life of Ron, the 14 year old hit man in Medellin, Colombia.
Meeting Elise is the story of a man with cancer, still heartbroken over the loss of his lover 30 years his junior, who is about to meet his only child, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby when the witch, his ex-wife, “blew the county, dangling [their] daughter from her broom…”
Halflead Bay, Jamie has a turn of luck and goes from a loser to school hero after scoring the winning goal. Because of it he catches the eye of Alison, and because of that he’s in the cross-hairs of Alison’s psychotic boyfriend. Jamie must decide whether he will remain the coward he had been or will he fight.
Hiroshima, written in the stream of consciousness of nine-year-old Mayako, is glimpse into the mindset and life of the Japanese pre-atom bomb.
Tehran Calling is the story of a Sarah Middleton, who goes to Iran to visit her best friend, who’s involved in a subversive group, and to escape the heartbreak of a love lost.