Cover image for Mongrel : essays, diatribes, and pranks
Mongrel : essays, diatribes, and pranks
Chin, Justin, 1969-2015.
Personal Author:
First Stonewall Inn edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
178 pages ; 21 cm.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3553.H48973 Z47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In a time when memoirs are often less than they claim to be and essays do not say enough, Justin Chin breaks onto the scene with a collection that is a combination of confession, tirade, journalism, and practical joke.
"Mongrel" is a cross-section of Chin's imagination and experiences that calls into question what it means to be an Asian-American in San Francisco, the effect your family will always have on you, and the role sexuality plays in your life. Whether it be Internet pornography or family history, Chin manages to dig deep and uncover not only the truths of everyday life, but also the absurdities that surround them.
"Mongrel "is an exploration and distillation of the experiences and imagination of a gay Asian-American whose sensibilities were formed by the maelstrom of '80s American pop culture. A unique collection from a brash, funny new voice.

Author Notes

Justin Chin was born in Malaysia in 1969. He attended the University of Hawaii. He moved to San Francisco in the early 1990s and became part of the spoken-word scene. His poetry collections included Bite Hard, Harmless Medicine, and Gutted, which won the Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award for Poetry. He also wrote several essay collections including Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms, Burden of Ashes, and Mongrel: Essays, Diatribes, and Pranks and the story collection 98 Wounds. He died after suffering a stroke on December 24, 2015 at the age of 46.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ever wonder how someone copes with the pain of an anal fissure? Chin imagines three elves having "wild adventures" in his colon. In this ragtag collection of essays about being gay, being Asian-American, being an artist and every permutation thereof, Chin offers his take on such topics as delicate surgery, the importance of class, his Asian upbringing, San Francisco's Castro neighborhood, Thai sex clubs, his disenchantment with poetry slams and pretty much anything else that enters his mind. At his most flippant, Chin is downright charming. In a piece titled "Don't Ask Isadora, Ask Me," he advises: "never serve semen with fish or seafood." He's also engaging when he turns unexpectedly sentimental‘as he does in remembering his grandmother's meatballs. Even when Chin lapses into straight journalism, as in his description of the pay scales for boys in Bangkok sex clubs, the book is still endearing. The real tossers come when he tries to present himself as a social commentator. Would anyone who's so much as seen a picture of Marx be shocked to read that "Class is all around, and sometimes, we don't see until it is too late"? How surprising is it that "porn may be morally or politically good or bad depending on whom you ask"? Yet despite the occasional bland insight, Chin's eclecticism and voice make the book, like a poetry slam, an enjoyable, if transient, entertainment. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Chin is a Singapore-born, California-based, hip, shaved, tattooed, foul-mouthed gay male. His series of 21 essays is autobiographical, but not in the usual sense. He does tell of his first frightening homosexual encounter and later affairs, his experiences with poetry slams and book tours, being a gay Asian, life in the Castro district of San Francisco, and his love for pancakes. But he also discusses prostitution in Bangkok, malls in Singapore, the Western interest in Buddhism, the Mr. Asian contest, and other topics. A few essays are actually poems; others really are pranks. Chin has already published Bite Hard (Manic D, 1997) and numerous articles in anthologies and magazines. He usually speaks as a gay Asian but often stoops to skewering easily skewered topics (Graceland, beauty contests). When he is original, he is insightful. Recommended for gay studies collections.‘Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One CHAIN LETTER Dear Friend of Literature: Enclosed is a very good book. In fact, it is more than supergood. It is fucking brilliant. Please take the time out to read the book and recommend it to eight others. If you do not wish to read the book or find that you cannot finish it for whatever reason (book too long, too verbose, failing eyesight, leprosy, etc.), please give the book to someone else who will appreciate it and also recommend it to eight others. PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE THIS LETTER. Aloysious Wong, of Hoboken, heeded it and now his first novel, I Don't Know What Race I Am (I'm So Confused), is currently being shopped around at A MAJOR NEW YORK PUBLISHER with film rights in the works. On the other hand, Geri-Ann Shimizu, of Honolulu, chose to ignore this letter and, to date, her only publishing credit is her poem "Flip Flops at Sandy Beach," published in the spring 1998 issue of Bamboo Canyon. It was on the left side of a Juli-Anna Shibata Lee-Nelson poem and so only four people read it. The fifth reader, Geri-Ann's babe, Scott Nishimoto-Newman, only made it halfway through because he couldn't understand it. Catherina Sung, of White Christmas Valley Canyon, received this chain and chose to ignore it and her second book , Memories of Sewing and Cooking with My Mother, went unnoticed. She later remembered the chain and passed it on and her third book , A Sewing and Cooking Girlhood, is currently #11 at the Waimea Barnes and Noble bestest-seller list. Her neighbor also carried on the chain and her dog had beautiful puppies. M Prince, of Twenty Nine Palms, California, broke the chain and he developed several canker sores while reading the new John Grisham best-seller and could not enjoy the book. You get the picture. Please do not break the chain. We want only good things to happen to you. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. Do it now and good things will befall you. Thank you. Excerpted from MONGREL by Justin Chin. Copyright © 1999 by Justin Chin. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Chain Letterp. 1
Monsterp. 3
Savedp. 12
Q-Punk Grammarp. 31
Currencyp. 35
My Fissurectomyp. 49
The Endless Possibility of a Kiss in a Fevered Faraway Homep. 55
The Crispy Edges of Pancakesp. 59
Blahp. 69
On [Ass Tactics, Aztec Ticks], Aestheticsp. 72
Death of the Castrop. 75
Slammedp. 79
What I Did Last Summerp. 90
Don't Ask Isadora, Ask Me!p. 106
After Yokop. 111
Attack of the White Buddhistsp. 113
Downloadsp. 119
Pardon Me, But Are You Mr. Asian?p. 127
Smilep. 141
Return to the Mallp. 163
A Mangy Afterwordp. 174
Notesp. 177