When Lai Fu Cheng becomes Ralph, he changes more than just his name. No longer a refugee from communism, he says he has come to find the American Dream in Gish Jen's modern immigration novel, "Typical American."
mental infirmity as a consequence of old age; sometimes shown by foolish infatuations
They might or might not have counted themselves happy, though; happiness as they conceived it then was a thing attained, a grand state, involving a fiefdom to survey from the plump comfort of their
Helen and Ralph had agreed that they would have a second family in a few years, another two, who with luck would be boys; but in the meantime, Mona and Callie were as soft as their brothers would be, as
enigmatic, bullheaded, goofy.
Too bright, too warm, and too stuffy, but the street garbage did not seem to be emanating gases the way it sometimes did, and most people were wearing clothes; only a few men
sauntered around in their potbellies.
a person employed to keep watch for some anticipated event
But so breathtaking were the streets that late afternoon, with their
sentinel trees and tender gardens, that the sun itself seemed to waver, unsetting, reluctant to leave; it was the onlooker whose presence weighted everything.
pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness
But so breathtaking were the streets that late afternoon, with their sentinel trees and tender gardens, that the sun itself seemed to
waver, unsetting, reluctant to leave; it was the onlooker whose presence weighted everything.
shaped to fit by or as if by altering the contours of a pliable mass (as by work or effort)
The stairs had a black
wrought iron railing on one side that Mona and Callie at first wouldn’t use, the wall seeming more familiar; but this being their wall now, and not everybody-in-the-entry’s, when Helen showed them how even hands that looked clean left prints, they stopped, and took to running up their five steps without touching anything.
It was years before Ralph even knew to ask himself those questions; and then it was only to find that he didn’t know their answers—that his own nature
eluded his grasp, like a solid sublimating straightaway, from between his fingers, to gas.