DARK BLUE SUIT by Peter Bacho


and Other Stories
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 A modest collection by Filipino novelist Bacho (Cebu, 1991) that gathers momentum as it proceeds, adding up, in the end, to a good deal more than the sum of its parts. More of a discursive novel that an anthology of tales, the book narrates the experience of several generations of Filipinos who settle on the West Coast before WW II and raise children who eventually move deeper into the US--both psychically and geographically. Buddy, who tells the tale, is a schoolteacher whose easy authority over his students conceals a deep ambivalence about his own identity and ambitions. Buddy's father Vince was part of the great wave of Filipinos who emigrated back and forth during the 1920s and '30s according to the rhythms and needs of the fisheries and canneries of the Pacific Northwest. In the best second- generation style, Buddy gets an education and settles himself in the suburban middle-class that his father had always held out to him as his goal and station in life. But the introspective Buddy keeps looking over his shoulder and wondering what might have happened to him had he taken one different turn or another along the way. In ``Rico'' and ``Home,'' he describes the tragedy of a working-class friend from high school who, lacking Buddy's college exemption, is drafted, goes to Vietnam, and never recovers. ``Stephie'' recounts a meeting between Buddy and an old flame who dumped him years before for a white law student, while ``Dancer'' is an account of Buddy's meeting with his grown half-sister, abandoned by their father, who refused publicly to acknowledge that he had kept a mistress in the States. Though bound together with the same characters and similar settings, the stories manage to provide a broad and very rich portrait of life among immigrants, exiles, and more-or-less happily settled newcomers from the Philippines. A skillfully drawn first collection, with a quiet intensity that captures the imagination and stirs the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-295-97664-0
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Univ. of Washington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1997


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