Gene Luen Yang (author of the brilliant graphic novel American Born Chinese") returns to long-form work with Level Up, illustrated by Thien Pham. Level Up is the story of Dennis Ouyang, a Chinese kid growing up in America, obsessed with video games and at war with his father, who wants him to "eat bitter" and grow up to be an academic success. When Dennis's father dies of cancer, Dennis flunks out of college and makes ready to tell his mother (and break her heart). But that's when Dennis's life gets weird: a quartet of greeting-card angels appear on his doorstep and announce that they are there to help him fulfill his destiny: to be a gastroenterologist. Dennis recognizes the angels: they graced the greeting card his father gave him on the occasion of his being made valedictorian of his eighth grade class (and later took back when Dennis struggled with poor grades).
These angels are sweet but very firm: they get him reenrolled in college and ride Dennis until he graduates with good grades and is admitted to medical school; they cook his meals and wash his clothes, they prepare flash-cards and alternately chide and praise him all the way along.
Now in med school, Dennis begins to realize that his "destiny" isn't what he wants from life -- he misses his video games, and senses a yawning chasm between the life he is being dragged into and the life he needs to live. What happens next is touching, surprising, and extremely satisfying (and I won't give it away).
Yang's got a gift for characters who understand their duty but don't fully believe it; Level Up is a great example of that dilemma. It's a manifesto for everyone who's ever wrestled with the expectations of their family, their friends, and their society (and who hasn't?), and it's ultimately both humane and inspiring.
Hands down one of the greatest of all time! Composer and pianist Ramsey Lewis will be streaming live on August 29th to support the Jazz Foundation of America. I have already bought my ticket. Stage It: GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist and NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis presents an exclusive concert experience Saturday August 29th at 1:00 […]
Before returning to her mom’s home for a few weeks, my daughter taught Electra to sleep in her bed…while I was asleep in mine. In an effort to maintain the housebreaking while acknowledging and encouraging my daughter’s canine liberation efforts and subterfuge, I will be sleeping with the puppy in her room until it can […]
A bunch of comedians teamed up to try and flip the US Senate. Full of disgusting and terrible traitors to democracy, the US Senate needs some change. STAND UP 4 AMERICA TO USE ORIGINAL MUSIC AND COMEDY VIDEO CONTENT TO RAISE FUNDS AND TURN THE SENATE BLUE IN NOVEMBER Jack Black, Moby, Keb’ Mo’ and […]
After years of hearing a steady drumbeat about the necessity of surfing the web under the protection of a VPN, even the most technophobic among us are starting to come around. But even knowing the dangers one can face from cybercrooks phishing for information from unsuspecting victims online, those last holdouts still have some fears. […]
You may not realize it, but some of the biggest films in movie history have been edited using the same tools some of you use to cut your video of vacationing at Disney World. Giant movies from Oscar favorites The Social Network and Gone Girl to blockbusters like Avatar, Deadpool, and last year’s Terminator: Dark […]
Now that the initial furor and shortages have subsided, it’s probably not a bad time to start considering your long-term cleaning and disinfecting plans. Sure, that might seem anywhere from overly cautious to outright ridiculous, but the threat of COVID-19 appears poised to be present for a while and the need for quick travel clean-up […]