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In her singular voice—humble, elegiac, practical—Maxine Hong Kingston sets out to reflect on aging as she turns sixty-five.
In swift verse lines that become, in her hands, another way of writing memoir, Kingston embraces Thoreau’s notion of a “broad margin,” hoping to expand her vista: “I’m standing on top of a hill / I can see everywhichway— / the long way that I came, and the few places / I have yet to go. Treat / my whole life as if it were a day.” As she flies between her activities as writer, peace activist, teacher, and mother, Kingston also revisits her characters: she learns the final fate of her Woman Warrior, and she takes her Tripmaster Monkey, a hip Chinese American, on a journey through China. Ultimately, traveling without allies, she arrives at places where “Doors / between heaven and earth open wide.”
Such is the spirit of this wonderful book—doors opening wide onto an American life of great purpose and joy, and the tonic wisdom of a writer we have come to cherish.