If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home by Now

Sandra Tsing Loh, Author Riverhead Books $23.95 (231p) ISBN 978-1-57322-068-2
With a celebrated book of essays and a highly praised one-woman show under her belt, Loh is the current queen of generational angst and ethnic ennui on the airwaves, stage and printed page. In works with such titles as Depth Takes a Holiday and Aliens in America, Loh has explored, with brio and satiric affection, what it means to be an ethnic American living in L.A. Here, in her fiction debut, Loh chronicles the travails of her beleaguered protagonist, Bronwyn Peters, a 30-ish graduate student who's stuck in Bohemian chic long after her peers have given up Guatemalan earrings and brass elephant planters for $200 haircuts and recessed kitchen lighting. Bronwyn has little to show for herself except a longtime boyfriend, Paul, who wears Elvis Costello glasses and lives with her in a very unfashionable neighborhood on the outskirts of L.A. Paul wants to be a screenwriter, while Bronwyn simply wants a tiled kitchen with copper pots. Loh tracks the couple's descent into the very L.A. pretensions they have long avoided: moving to a downtown condo, trading their VW bus for a Geo Futura, turning the dial from NPR to Lite FM. She attempts to capture the comic tensions of an environmentally sensitive generation with middle-class ambitions; but the idea of chasing the American dream in a beat-up old VW on the L.A. freeways holds more promise than what's delivered. The characters never really achieve dimension, stuck as they are in Loh's breezy send-up. More important, she never does lob the firebombs she so accurately aimed in her previous books. (Sept.) FYI: Riverhead will publish paperback editions of Depth Takes a Holiday and Aliens in America in September.
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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