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From The Asian Reporter, V14, #52 (December 21, 2004), page 20.

Nowhere for sure

World Famous Love Acts

Short stories by Brian Leung

Sarabande Books, 2004

Paperback, 202 pages, $14.95

By Polo

There’s some profound writing in Brian Leung’s first short story collection: there’s a lot of delicate internal monologue and plenty of strong interaction between his troubled characters. But by far the most persistent feel permeating his eleven tales gathered here, is the sense of the storyteller’s voice coming from nowhere, for sure. The same is so for people inhabiting Mr. Leung’s story-space; there’s a sense his characters are going nowhere for sure.

All this is of course no accident. This is a universe without gravity, these are lives lacking anchors, by design. In the short story for which the volume is named, "World Famous Love Acts" (a slyly misleading title, no stupendous love acts actually happen), two sweaty young men take their tired Toyota all the way across the continent but readers never arrive at the New Orleans stage show promised by the story’s marquee. Likewise, in "Who Knew Her Best," a perished porn star’s showbiz buds all claim in memoriam to have known her well, but it is only her L.A. driver, who once sat on her front steps with her one late evening, without hype, without hustle, who can really recall anything authentic about her, about her disintegrating soul.

Brian Leung presents his weightless world through a wide variety of voices, male and female, young and old, urban and rural, straight and gay. This unsteady platform makes World Famous Love Acts a disorienting journey. Sea-sickness comes to mind. The author’s mixed heritage may be part of the explanation. More often than not, colliding chromosomes and competing cultural claims do kids much more damage than good. To call that perspective rootless would be dumb. It’s more like a tumble, more like Mr. Leung’s suicides in Six Ways to Jump Off a Bridge: "… the irrevocable moments when we can’t see we’re already in midair … and we are alone."

When asked about his Chinese/Irish mélange, the author says "I’m extremely interested in divided or diminishing culture. But it took me a while to understand what to do with that interest.

"There is a genuine confusion that goes on in the category of ‘other.’"

Brian Leung was born in San Diego. He received his MFA from Indiana University. He is currently an Assistant Professor at California State University.

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