Tag Archives: semi-autobiography

Review: Stinky Tofu

Recap: It’s the 80’s in Chicago and banker Sam Lowe is living his best life. He’s a man about town: making good money, always fit and well-dressed and dating around. He’s well-respected at work and happy living in Chicago. Until he’s not. Expecting a big bonus, he’s instead sent off on a new project. He finds himself at a conference that he’s completely dreading until one woman changes everything. Linda Liu. She’s so beautiful, he doesn’t even know quite where to begin.

But Sam’s sure-of-himself attitude takes over and soon the two are seriously dating. After months of long distance, he moves to New York to be with her and marry her. Sam is Jewish. Linda is Chinese. What Sam didn’t realize is that before they could marry, Linda would first need approval from her family in Taiwan. They make the trip and spend some good quality time with her family. They’re not too sure of him at first, and they don’t hesitate to put him through the ringer.

But once again, Sam miscalculates. The family not only approves of him. They now want to move to New York with Sam and Linda too. Suddenly Sam’s life is being controlled by his wife’s family, and he doesn’t seem to have much say in the matter.

Analysis: Here’s the thing. This semi-autobiographical novel is described and marketed as “a comedic novel.” But mostly it just feels racist and uncomfortable. Every bit of Asian culture Linda and her family bring into Sam’s life, he rejects and then ultimately succumbs to it.

I read the book because I identified with Sam. I’m Jewish and thought this would be like if I married someone Asian or even someone non-Jewish. The book is about the marriage of two cultures, and that’s something everyone can relate to in this day and age. But the lines meant to be funny read as offensive. The worst part is the author doesn’t even seem aware of how offensive his writing is. Lines like “I tried speaking to her in English, but it was as if she’d just stepped off the boat” is the least of it.

Set aside the racism, the writing feels juvenile and the characters are unlikable. Sam bends over and takes whatever Linda and her family throw his way. You could say he does it for love, but we never get a clear picture of just how in love he and Linda are. He comes across as weak, and Linda and her family are so selfish and demanding, they’re not likable either.

MVP: No one.

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James Franco Adds “Novelist” to Actor, Producer, Student Title

The 34-year-old stud is no longer just an actor, producer, Oscar host, and grad student. Now James Franco is entering “novelist” to the list.

Franco — who has studied creative writing at Columbia and English at Yale — has signed a published deal with Amazon Publishing.

According to this article by the L.A. Times, Franco’s first novel will be semi-autobiographical and titled Actors Anonymous. That might not be the best title as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

Franco has been nominated for one Oscar, two Emmys, three MTV Movie Awards, three SAG awards and a couple of Golden Globes. He’s won one Golden Globe and two Independent Spirit awards. He co-hosted the 2011 Academy Awards, which were watched by millions of people worldwide. Maybe he should consider taking the “anonymous” out of the title.

There are a few things I wonder here: a) is Franco really that smart and creative or does he just enjoy taking classes and acquiring as many degrees as possible? b) how is the novel going to sell under the new Amazon publishing company? and c) when he says it’s “loosely based on his life,” are we talking about Lauren Conrad a la L.A. Candy or are we talking about Jack Kerouac a la On the Road?

What do you guys think? How will it do? Will you read it?

**Note: Franco has already published a collection of short stories, titled Palo Alto, as seen in the photo above.

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