cover image Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories

Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories

Hisaye Yamamoto. Kitchen Table--Women of Color Press, $11.95 (134pp) ISBN 978-0-913175-14-9

Imbued with the serenity of authority, these stories ably conduct the reader through the Japanese experience in America, from the oil fields of Redondo Beach to the internment camps of WW II, through the lives of young and old as they confront American customs, manners and culture. Yamamoto's stories also depict the stained relationships between Japanese immigrants and the nisei (American-born Japanese). Yet the author does not confine herself to ethnic issues. In ``The High-Heeled Shoes: A Memoir,'' for example, the subtle forms of sexual harassment are delineated; a woman's obsession with expressing herself through the condensed poetry of haiku, and her husband's objections are explored in the title story. The inexplicable tragedies of everyday lifean inconsolable mourner, a desertion by a friend, the endless quest for an illusory prosperity (as in the stories ``The Brown House'' and ``Las Vegas Charley)are underscored by a forlorn nostalgia for a history and a culture that fails to be transmitted from one generation to the next. Yamamoto, the daughter of Japanese immigrants, makes a welcome American debut. (Nov.)