Friday, June 3, 2016

Interview Up at BRIAN DRAKE AT LARGE!

Broadcaster at WorkAuthor Brian Drake (Permission to Die, The Rogue Gentleman) recently interviewed me about my short story collection for his blog, Brian Drake at Large!

In our brief chat, I also end up talking about Singaporean horror, my former professor Albert Wendt, the fake Chinese poet Li-Fen Chou, and, for some odd reason, David Hasselhoff!

Check out the interview here!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

CONFESSIONS OF A NUMBER ONE SON: CHINESE AMERICAN LITERATURE NOW

 

Presented by Before Columbus Foundation
Laurel Book Store: May 22, 11:00am—12:15pm

The Chinese presence in North America predates the formation of the United States by several centuries, thus making Chinese-American Literature one of the most complex traditions in contemporary letters. The arc and panorama of this vibrant, urgent stream among American artistic tributaries will be discussed with one of its master practitioners and grand iconoclasts, Frank Chin. The Confessions of a Number One Son: The Great Chinese American Novel, Mr. Chin's most recent novel, will serve as the axis of this conversation, which will include its editor, Prof. Calvin McMillin, and Genny Lim, a key presence in contemporary Chinese-American culture.

 FRANK CHIN is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and cultural critic. His first two plays, The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon, remain seminal works in the history of Asian American theater. Chin’s books include Donald Duk, Gunga Din Highway, and Bulletproof Buddhists. He is also the coeditor of two landmark anthologies of Asian American literature: Aiiieeeee! and its sequel, The Big Aiiieeeee!

GENNY LIM's poetry books are Winter Place from the San Francisco Kearny Street Workshop and Child of War. She is author of two plays: Paper Angels and Bitter Cane and the nonfiction book Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island. Lim has performed and recorded in poetry and music collaborations with jazz greats Max Roach, Herbie Lewis, John Santos, Francis Wong, and Jon Jang. Paper Angels was performed in San Francisco's Chinatown and won the Fringe Festival Top Ten Award for Best Site Specific Work. Her performance piece, Where is Tibet? premiered at CounterPulse, and was performed at AfroSolo Arts and Women on the Way Festivals.

CALVIN MCMILLIN is a writer, teacher, and scholar. Born in Singapore and raised in rural Oklahoma, he received his PhD in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes fiction and previously worked as a film critic for LoveHKFilm.com, a Hong Kong cinema Web site. He is the author of The Sushi Bar at the Edge of Forever.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

THE SUSHI BAR AT THE EDGE OF FOREVER IS AVAILABLE TODAY!

My short story collection, The Sushi Bar at the Edge of Forever, is now available for purchase in paperback and e-book. Here's the press release from my publisher, Pro Se Productions.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FROM THE PAGES OF ‘ASIAN PULP’-‘THE SUSHI BAR AT THE EDGE OF FOREVER’ COLLECTION DEBUTS

In 2015, Pro Se Productions published ASIAN PULP, an anthology featuring tales with Asian leads and a follow up to Pro Se’s best selling BLACK PULP. Author Calvin McMillin’s haunting noir horror story was included in that collection and now joins five other stories by McMillin in a new collection from Pro Se entitled, like the original story, THE SUSHI BAR AT THE EDGE OF FOREVER.

“Telling great stories,” says Pro Se Editor in Chief Tommy Hancock, “is what a talented author does. A part of that is being able to take various aspects of different genres and blend them together into a written concoction that knocks readers off their feet. Calvin McMillin’s THE SUSHI BAR AT THE EDGE OF FOREVER first accomplished that as a well delivered, thought provoking short story in ASIAN PULP and now he does it again six times over in a collection of the same name. The places that Calvin takes readers in each of these stories are unique and set just as much in a corner of our own souls as they are in a sushi bar or anywhere else. Both pathos and terror abound in this collection.”

The realms of fantasy, horror, and noir converge in THE SUSHI BAR AT THE EDGE OF FOREVER, an eclectic short story collection from author Calvin McMillin.

A ghostwriter wishes to break free of his bestselling horror series and reveal his true identity to the world, but he soon learns that plagiarism can have ghastly consequences…

A beautiful tourist is offered a shot at fame from a world-class modeling agency, but a disturbing incident buried deep in her past may hold the key to surviving the audition…

A private detective visits a sushi bar and strikes up a conversation with a mysterious stranger, a fateful encounter that will cause him to question not only his sanity, but his very existence…

These and other exciting tales make up THE SUSHI BAR AT THE EDGE OF FOREVER , a spellbinding collection of six pulp stories that will plunge you headlong into a surreal world of mystery, menace, and the macabre. From Pro Se Productions.

Featuring an evocative cover by Larry Nadolsky and cover design and print formatting by Percival Constantine, THE SUSHI BAR AT THE EDGE OF FOREVER is available now at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Sushi-Bar-At-Edge-Forever/dp/1530327717/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1457110681&sr=1-1 and Pro Se’s own store at www.prose-press.com for 15.00.

Calvin McMillin’s story collection of noir and horror is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Russ Anderson for only $2.99 for the Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Sushi-Bar-Edge-Forever-ebook/dp/B01CH8DMQ6/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1457110681&sr=1-2 and for most digital formats via Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/619939.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.


To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

WORLD LITERATURE TODAY Reviews THE CONFESSIONS OF A NUMBER ONE SON

Robert Murray Davis has a review of The Confessions of a Number One Son in World Literature Today. Although brief, it features some incisive commentary on both the novel and its relationship to the overall arc of Frank Chin's career.

Here's the first paragraph, but check out the full review at the link below the excerpt:

As Calvin McMillin notes, and as longtime readers of Frank Chin’s work will realize, The Confessions of a Number One Son: The Great Chinese American Novel includes characters, episodes, and cultural references, most of them pop, that have appeared in plays, fiction, and essays, for to quote Chin, “It’s all part of the same kit.” McMillin has done a commendable job in assembling, from various scattered drafts of Chin’s novel, abandoned about four decades ago, a typescript of 662 pages and then cutting material used in later stories and novels to result in the version now published.

http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2015/september/confessions-number-one-son-great-chinese-american-novel-frank-chin

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

PINBALL WIZARD -- A Look at Haruki Murakami's PINBALL, 1973

When I began reading Haruki Murakami’s work, the going rate on eBay for Kodansha’s English translation of Pinball, 1973 was well over $250 a copy. I couldn’t afford to pay that much for a novel (and wouldn’t if I could), but through a stroke of luck, I eventually scored a copy for fifteen bucks.  In my original 2010 review of the book, I wrote, "If Murakami ever allows the two novels to be released in the West, he’d do well to instruct the publisher to collate the two works as a single book. It’d make for more substantial reading." Well, that's exactly what happened. In August, Knopf released Wind/Pinball: Two Novels, a collection that includes new translations of both Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973.

Both Pinball, 1973 and its predecessor provide an interesting, if not entirely significant backstory to the events of Wild Sheep Chase — in fact, the three books are said to form the so-called “Trilogy of the Rat.” Characters and places featured in Wild Sheep Chase are actually introduced in Murakami's first two books: the unnamed narrator, his business partner, the aforementioned Rat, and J's Bar (not to mention J himself). In addition, both of these slender tomes provide an interesting primer to all things Murakami: references abound to all kinds of Murakami staples: elephants, ears, spaghetti, suicide by hanging in a forest, an old girlfriend named Naoko, and wells — the deep, dark, and bottomless kind.

Monday, August 24, 2015

HARUKI MURAKAMI BEGINS: Some Musings on HEAR THE WIND SING (1979)


“You keep looking at the sea and you start to miss being with people; you stay around people all the time and you just want to look at the sea. Funny about that.” 

-- Haruki Murakami, from Alfred Birnbaum's translation of Hear the Wind Sing.*

Published as Kaze no Uta o Kike in 1979, Hear the Wind Sing was later translated into English by Alfred Birnbaum in 1987. But funnily enough, despite Murakami's exploding global popularity in the years to follow, Birnbaum's translations of Hear the Wind Sing and its sequel Pinball, 1973 were not immediately made available to US and UK publishers. For the longest time, these English translations were exclusive to Japan as part of the Kodansha English Library. To my knowledge, Murakami has never provided a satisfactory answer as to why these works were withheld for so long, but I suspect the brevity of each novel might have factored into the decision.** Whatever the truth, thanks to a number of Japanese eBay sellers, these books did not remain completely out of reach for Murakami fans outside of Japan. In fact, I count myself among those fans lucky enough to purchase both books -- and at reasonable prices, too. But now, Murakami devotees no longer have to go to such lengths to obtain his early works. In August 2015, Knopf solved the problem by publishing Wind/Pinball, a double volume newly translated by Ted Goossen.

In a brand new introduction titled "The Birth of My Kitchen Table Fiction," Murakami fondly remembers the series of events that led to the writing of Hear the Wind Sing. While he was watching a baseball game, he suddenly became possessed with the idea of writing a novel, and so, while running a jazz bar with his wife, he would write for an hour every night after closing for the next three months. When the manuscript was completed, he submitted it to a literary magazine named Gunzo and, lo and behold, ended up winning its literary prize in the process. Not a bad start, eh? As a Murakami fan myself, I was already aware of this story, but what I didn't know -- and what Murakami reveals here, among many other things -- is that he sent Gunzo his only copy of the manuscript: "If they hadn't selected it, it probably would have vanished forever. (Gunzo didn't return rejected manuscripts.) Most likely too, I would have never written another novel. Life is strange" (xvi). Let that sink in for a second. That means no Wild Sheep Chase. No Norwegian Wood. No 1Q84.

Let's all send a note of thanks to Gunzo, shall we?


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

INTERVIEW ON CHINTALKS BLOG

Eddie Chern, editor of Frank Chin's blog Chin Talks, conducted an extensive interview with me about my work on The Confessions of a Number One Son. We discuss everything from my background to my thoughts on what the novel's prospects might have been, if it had been published in the 1970s as originally intended. You can check out the full interview at link below:

http://chintalks.blogspot.com/2015/08/an-interview-with-calvin-mcmillin.html

Friday, July 24, 2015

Some Thoughts on ASIAN PULP

I wrote a piece on detective fiction, Asian American representation, and ASIAN PULP, alongside thoughts from fellow writers Naomi Hirahara, Steph Cha, and others. Below is an excerpt from my contribution -- check out the full article here.  

DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS: ASIAN AMERICAN PULP FICTION
Down These Mean Streets: Asian American Pulp Fiction - See more at: http://thelifesentence.net/book/some-thoughts-on-asian-pulp/#sthash.aidpuuv2.dpuf

I have always enjoyed a good mystery. Even so, I didn’t recognize the genre’s true potential until I read Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. “The ideal mystery,” Chandler once wrote, “was one you would read if the end was missing.”* In other words, a good detective novel isn’t dependent on some big reveal, but on something more significant: “a certain intensity of artistic performance” involving character, style, and tone—among other things.** Inspired by Chandler’s literary aspirations, I began writing my own mystery novel featuring Sanjuro Jones—a half-Japanese, half-white journalism major searching for a missing student in a sleepy college town. Was I simply using the mystery genre to write about myself? Certainly not. I was a half-Chinese, half-white English major living in a sleepy college town—completely different. 

All joking aside, Sanjuro’s creation arose from necessity. Simply put, I noticed a dearth of compelling Asian and Asian American characters in detective fiction. Even in the Chandler novels I admired, characters of Asian descent served as little more than window dressing—perhaps less overtly racist than in the fiction of the time, but no less stereotypical. In fact, it seemed like the only existing Asian detectives in pop culture were walking, talking stereotypes—Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto, and Mr. Wong, all of whom were portrayed by white actors on the silver screen. Despite whatever heroic attributes these “Oriental detectives” were meant to embody, there’s no denying their blatant phoniness—in mannerism, accent, and appearance. “Yellowface” was never about casting the best actor; it was simply a product of Hollywood racism.

Read the rest here:




*Introduction to the 1950 edition of Trouble Is My Business.

**Letter to Erle Stanley Gardner dated January 29, 1946.

Rave Review for THE CONFESSIONS OF A NUMBER ONE SON in NICHI BEI WEEKLY!

Martha Nakagawa wrote a positive review of The Confessions of a Number One Son for the Nichi Bei Weekly that also has some mighty complimentary things to say about yours truly. Check out an excerpt of the review below before reading the full critique here.

Calvin McMillin is to be commended for breathing life into a long-lost novel by Frank Chin, a writer who has been instrumental in shaping Asian American literature.

“The Confessions of a Number One Son,” although written more than four decades ago, is proof positive that Chin is a master wordsmith, whose prose brim with word plays, stream of consciousness and a cast of characters that only Chin could conjure up.

“Confessions” is a sequel to “The Chickencoop Chinaman,” and follows the adventures or rather, the misadventures of Golford Tam Lum.

Read the full review here:

http://www.nichibei.org/2015/07/a-twisted-trip-filled-with-raunchy-comedy-and-poignant-tenderness/

Monday, July 6, 2015

ASIAN PULP is now available!

 My short story "The Sushi Bar at the Edge of Forever" is being published in Pro Se Productions' latest anthology, Asian Pulp! Check out the press release below. The book can be purchased in paperback or for Kindle on Amazon.com!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

‘ASIAN PULP’ DEBUTS FROM PRO SE PRODUCTIONS!

In April 2013, Pro Se Productions released ‘Black Pulp’, a collection of stories written in classic pulp genres featuring lead characters of African descent. Not only were readers captivated by the cast of characters featured in the book, they also saw the potential of future volumes, both of ‘Black Pulp’, and collections featuring other ethnicities in much the same way. Pro Se Productions proudly announces the release of ‘Asian Pulp’, featuring seventeen of today’s best authors, in both print and digital format.

Leonard Chang, novelist and writer and co-producer of the TV crime drama ‘Justified’, states in his introduction to ‘Asian Pulp’, “The world of pulp fiction was a world that I understood—it was a reaction to trauma, both as art and as catharsis. Personal trauma. Emotional trauma. Physical trauma. National trauma. This is why I responded to it, why I immersed myself in it. And why, whenever I was in a personal and artistic crisis, it saved me. Fiction is a reflection of and commentary on life, and I needed to find a reflection of and commentary on my life.

That there weren't any Asian Americans in the pulp I was reading wasn't a problem (or if there were Asians they tended to be dismissible stereotypes) -- no, not a problem at all, but actually an opportunity. I've always viewed writing as providing myself with more reading material. I write what I can't find out there. Why not have a Korean American act as a private eye, and infuse in his character all the traits I wanted to see but haven't? Why not write about Korean American gangsters, criminals, and detectives? And this is where we, as writers, all began moving toward: writing about people we want to see on the page, in lives and stories that speak to us.”

Following in the tradition of the best selling ‘Black Pulp’, from Today's Best Authors and up and coming writers comes ‘Asian Pulp’ from Pro Se Productions! A collection of stories featuring characters of Asian origin or descent in stories that run the gamut of genre fiction!

‘Asian Pulp’ includes works from Don Lee, Naomi Hirahara, Kimberly Richardson, Percival Constantine, William F. Wu, Gary Phillips, Calvin McMillin, Mark Finn, Dale Furutani, Steph Cha, Henry Chang, Sean Taylor, Gigi Pandian, Louise Herring-Jones, Alan J. Porter, and David C. Smith. The anthology opens with an introduction from Leonard Chang.