cover image Her Wild American Self

Her Wild American Self

M. Evelina Galang. Coffee House Press, $13.95 (184pp) ISBN 978-1-56689-040-3

Despite some pointed descriptions, most of Galang's debut short-story collection is marred by flat endings and characters almost entirely lacking in self-knowledge. This is particularly unfortunate in stories about self-discovery, such as ""Rose Colored,"" in which the well-balanced Rose compares her life to her go-go dancing cousin; the title story, about the adolescent Augustina and her budding sexual relationship with her cousin; and ""Figures,"" in which Ana, who paints voluptuous nudes, marries a man whose stability is at first appealing but who becomes vaguely grating. The most provocative work here is ""Filming Sausage,"" a diary-like account of escalating sexual harassment on the set of a breakfast-meat commercial, but it too ends with a whimper as the victim switches from a moment-by-moment second-person account to a sort of summing up in the final paragraphs. Marking the beginning, middle and end are three short pieces, which are more political commentary on the position of Asian and Asian-American women than stories. Like in the head-on rant on stereotypes in ""The Look-Alike Women"" (""Because you are all exotic. Sensual and mysterious as red silk kimonos. Passionate like volcanoes, Mount Fuji and Pinatubo. Sexy like the girls who danced in clubs along Oolangapo. Fierce like Miss Saigon""), they are direct and forcefully worded giving some taste of what Galang might yet achieve in her longer stories. (Apr.)