Friday, September 12, 2008

The World Boogie is Coming

Speaking of Thacker Mountain Radio, last night authors Monique Truong and Bich Mihn Nguyen stopped by, along with musical guests James 'Super Chikan' Johnson and Ariel Jade. Since, technically, this isn't a music blog I'll leave discussion of Ms. Jade's fourteen-year-old prodigyness and Super Chikan's innovative ideas on recycling (guitars made of gas cans, cigar boxes, pool cues, and ceiling fans) for another time and place.

The readings last night focused primarily on food. Ms. Truong read from Book of Salt, her 2003 novel about a Vietnamese cook working for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Before she could begin, though, host Jim Dees inquired into her opinion on the food in Oxford. "The best thing about the veggie plate at Ajax," she said,"is that you can't find any vegetables on it. I don't really think fried okra counts."

Ms. Truong has the sort of glittery laugh that one attributes to innocent children or pyromaniacs. And, a certain evil glee did flash in her eyes as she prompted her listeners to guess the 'bad habit' hinted at by the cook in the section she was about to read. She also asked us to think about the food we ate, and who prepared it. We, the audience laughed sportingly, if suspiciously. We groaned at the first mention of human secretions, ducked our heads as she read of chefs sticking a tasting finger in each pot. One woman covered her ears. And Ms. Truong read on with a smile, enjoying every minute of our suffering.

Ms. Nguyen read from Stealing Buddha's Dinner, her 2007 memoir, now in paperback, about growing up a Mondale supporting Vietnamese-American in the All-American Reagan town of Grand Rapids, Michigan. On Oxford's fine dining, she expressed one desire above all else. "I'm looking forward to chicken-on-a-stick*." And to our disbelieving snickers, she replied. "It's chicken. On a stick. How can you say no?"

The passage she read to us concerned her fast friendship with a girl her age named, Holly, a girl that unfortunately also supported Mondale, and so wasn't that helpful in getting the young Ms. Nguyen accepted by the in-crowd.

If you're in town next Thursday, or any Thursday, swing by Off-Square around 6 and catch a show. Next week it's Clyde Edgerton and Clint Jordan. How can you say no?

*For those non-Oxfordians, chicken-on-a-stick is the culinary speciality of a corner Chevron located just past the south end of the town square.

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