For those just joining in, on Monday an explosion seriously injured a man near a gas pipeline in Plano. Police investigating the incident concluded that the man hadn’t been hit by a car (as he claimed) but that an explosive device had detonated (possibly early) near a gas pipeline. The police bomb squad also disposed of a device taken from the suspect’s house. Using information in the various news stories and public records, I deduced that an Anson Chi was the likely suspect. Today I posted some background on Chi, in that he seems to be both a Ron Paul supporter, and an opponent of religion, corporations, and genetically modified food.
Now, the latest news: The FBI was back at the suspect’s home today, carrying out another search.
I’ve been skimming through Chi’s novel (actually, based on length, more of a novella) Yellow on the Outside, Shame on the Inside: Asian Culture Revealed, which you can download for free. As you might deduce from the title, it’s largely about the pressures of being expected to succeed as an Asian in America.
Take the opening on the first page for example:
Doctor or lawyer—my only two options. These would be your only two options if you have Asian parents. You would think that you would be able to pick your own career, since you know, it is your own damn life. But not when you have Asian parents. So my only two options: doctor or lawyer.
It’s partially a first person Roman a clef about growing up Asian, partially an indictment of The Way We Live now, partially rants about status, privilege, and what the protagonist (and presumably the author) sees as a lack of moral compass among Asians. Here’s an example:
I hate grocery shopping by myself, especially when my parents make me come here to Culver Plaza, the Chinatown of Irvine and ergo Orange County. It’s always crowded with Asian people of course, all looking for a wide selection of cheap Asian goods. Now when I say cheap, I don’t mean just the price; I also mean the quality. Many people are aware of lead toys manufactured in China, but not many are aware of cadmium-laden kitchenware, which has been linked to birth defects and cancer; or chopped up pieces of bleached cardboard in frozen wontons; or contaminated, toxic pet food that has killed a copious number of animals here in the United States; or milk and baby formula laced with melamine, a banned industrial chemical, the same chemical used in the contaminated, toxic pet food; or the extreme levels of formaldehyde normally for embalming dead bodies used in clothing, and unbelievably, also in noodles, which prompted the shutdown of one of the biggest noodle manufacturers in China. Not to mention the complete violation of human rights and the advocacy of slave labor, but of course, Asians don’t care because it’s always about the money, so ethical and moral values go out the window.
The story concludes when the protagonist and a fellow Asian student friend prepare to commit suicide because they scored too low on the MCAT.
Not exactly the feel-good book of the year.
It’s a stark contrast with Chi’s generally cheerful Facebook page, though the same sense of irony can be found in each.
He even puts in supplemental material at the end of the book, just in case you didn’t get the message:
Question: Why would you write a book that’s not true?
My Answer: This book is a didactic novel, aka literary fiction. But I know what you mean. I wrote this book based on my cognizance and on the lives of others, including my own life. There are people who wouldn’t agree with what I say just like I wouldn’t agree with what they say. Life goes on…
Question: Why did you write this book?
My Answer: The suicide rate for Asian Americans is astronomically higher than Caucasians, African Americans, and Latin Americans. In fact, Asian Americans have the highest suicide rate among women. Moreover, two million women attempt suicide in China every year, with many more not counted due to saving face. This needs to change, and I believe my book is conducive as a start for that change. I see too many Asian children indoctrinated and conditioned like overachieving robots, here in the United States and in Asia. This won’t stop until we all work together, as I have luminously delineated in the last chapter (Détente) of my book.
We will refrain from critiquing the literary value of the novel, or the author calling his own work “luminous,” and note that this, combined with his disenchantment with the current state of politics (and possible job issues, since his resume doesn’t list any paying employer since 2006, unless he was on the Ron Paul payroll in 2008), may start to provide possible motivation for his actions.
Let’s just say he seems to have some issues.