A MIX OF SCI-FI
July 17, 2008
I finally got around to finishing up Obama's Dreams from my Father, which turned out to be a fantastic book. Having grown tired of political conversation, I was glad to find that the book had almost nothing to do with politics -- it was a narrative about the life of a man who had to come to grips with conflicting ideas of his identity... conflict not only within himself, but also from those around him who weren't always sure what to make of him. It's in this context that I've found myself as well -- not only now, but also in the reality of my childhood. The split nationality, feeling almost (but not actually) at home in several places... this resonates strongly with me, and the smaller our world becomes, the more I'm sure others will feel this same sense of disjointed identity.
A while back, I tried explaining to my Korean mother about this feeling, and she said that my description felt like a sense of longing for home, which she periodically experienced. However, for her, "home" actually exists -- she could take a flight to Seoul and then take a bus down to the little town of Ha-Dong in South Korea and literally be back home. For me... it feels like there is no home. There is no sense of a resting place. For many people with a first generational split in ethnic identity, there is only restlessness. And now having read a second book on such a familiar subject (the first was One Thousand Chestnut Trees), there is a morbid sense of comfort in realizing that so many others feel the same detachment.
The next book I'm reading is a collection of science fiction books -- the "Best of 2005," it states. With as busy as this summer has been for me, I'm finding less and less time to sit and read; the only way to find satisfaction with reading is to wade through a bunch of short stories -- a novel will simply take too long, and I don't feel like waiting that long for plot resolution. Short stories get me through the whole range of plot-inspired emotion, which is a large part of the appeal of reading fiction.
Apart from a series of Larry Niven books, I haven't read a lot of science fiction. At a young age, I broke into reading novels with a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons fantasy novels -- mostly DragonLance, and an occasional Ravenloft book here and there. Lots of swords, dragons, magic, etc., etc. However, the medieval-fantasy genre got a little tiring and repetitive, so I stepped out of it for a while. I think that my fickle mind can only handle escaping into a familiar fiction landscape for so long before I need some change.
I'll try the science fiction thing for the next 650 pages and see what happens next.