THE LOOM by R.A. Sasaki


And Other Stories
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 An accomplished first collection by a third-generation San Franciscan. The stories here, most set in California, reflect Sasaki's Japanese-American background in a low-key but poignant way--not so much as a clash of contrasts but as a rivalry of claims: the customs, the foods, even the idioms of the past that still tug, even at a generation who have been spared the earlier prejudices and wartime hostilities. Though the pieces are separate, most are about the Terasaki family. In ``Ohaka-Mairi,'' the family goes to the cemetery to pay respect to the dead, and the narrator recalls her father's bitterness at the death of her elder sister in a climbing accident. Their mother is the central character in the title story: ``It was when Cathy died that the other Terasaki sisters began to think that something was wrong with their mother.'' She had graduated from the University of California in the 30's despite the ever-present prejudice, but had then been interned with her parents in one of the camps. This internment and growing deafness further accelerated her mother's isolation. But a weaving loom is her salvation--soon ``she sat, a woman bent over a loom, weaving the diverse threads of life into one miraculous, mystical fabric with timeless care.'' Other notables are: ``First Love,'' in which a bookish girl falls for a Japanese-born boy who's ``driven to maintain an illusion''; and ``Driving to Colma,'' in which the dying father of the family takes an unexpected detour to the see the ocean ``lit for sunset.'' Quiet, elegiac writing that movingly celebrates the immigrant rite of passage--along with all its implicit heartaches and triumphs.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1991
ISBN: 1-55597-157-1
Page count: 124pp
Publisher: Graywolf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991