HER WILD AMERICAN SELF: Stories by M. Evelina Galang


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Debut collection of 12 consummately crafted but somewhat lifeless stories exploring the Filipina-American experience. These pieces by American-born Galang, some of which have appeared in magazines like Amerasia Journal, New Voices, and Quarterly West, offer insight into an immigrant group overshadowed by more familiar Asian immigrants, though their native land's relationship with the US has been long and close. The contrast between the long-held admiration for things American and the actual cost of living the American dream is a recurring theme here. In ""Rose Colored,"" a visit to a dancer cousin, Mina, who has embraced her immigrant heritage, suggests to successful banker Rose that she may have tried too hard to escape her own past. In ""Talk to Me, Milagros"" and ""Our Fathers,"" respectively, Nelda, a young Filipina-American, at first envies Milagros, the daughter of recently arrived immigrants, then witnesses Milagros's hurt as her father, an attorney in the Philippines, tries to adjust to being a busboy in the US; and a young girl watches as death disrupts her father's long struggle to bring his parents to America. Other tales explore the additional tensions of being female in families that still honor old country ways and ideals. In the title story, ""wild"" Mona is told the cautionary tale of her unmarried aunt Augustina, who was sent back to the Philippines pregnant. In two others, a woman is distressed to observe her brother turning her niece into a traditional Filipina woman (""Miss Teenage Sampaguita""); and a single woman faces family hostility when she returns home pregnant to visit her dying mother (""Contravida""). In another notable piece, ""Filming Sausage,"" the protagonist, in charge of a film's continuity, is harassed by the director for being both female and Asian. A welcome addition to the Filipina-American corpus, though no story here, despite Galang's best intentions, ever quite captures that long lingering sense of difference and dissonance that is so much the immigrant experience.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1996
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Coffee House