Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Girl On a Leash" by Krys Lee (2013, 5 pages)

Krys Lee was born in Seoul in The Republic of Korea and raised in England and the United States.  Her debut collection of short stories Drifting  House (2012) is drawing great praise from all over the world, with the exception of North Korea where I suspect being caught with a copy would get you in very serious trouble..  

I posted last year on the title story in her collection, "Drifting Home".   I was very happy to find a new story by Lee in a recent issue of Guernica.  Lee focuses on Koreans.   Some of her stories are about life in North Korea, some in Seoul, and some deal with first and second generation Korean immigrants to the USA.  

"Girl on a Leash" has three main characters, a married couple.  The father mops the floors at an American college at night.  He graduated from the University of Seoul, he resents the barbarians, as he and his wife call Americans.  They save to open a laundry. 

They also have a late teenage daughter. They keep her,not sure if we are to take this literarily or metaphorically, on a leash.

"She had always been latched to a leash. Had grown up with a handsome pink leather collar encircling her neck, a leather strap holding her at rigid attention. Everywhere she walked, her father and mother trailed behind, slackening or tightening it.

They worried. If she fell asleep, the downbeat of the leash shuddered her alert. When she was slow, her father snapped it against her clavicle. But when shadows scudded along the lintels, they drew the leash in and harbored her in the cove of their arms."
There biggest fear is that American college boys will sexually prey on their developing into a beauty daughter.   They fear her sexuality will be her downfall.  They repeatedly warn her to trust no American men.  They constantly search her room for signs of trouble.  When they find love letters, they tighten the leash so if she resists she will fall over.
This kind of parental tyranny often leads to trouble and can produce the very results parents fear.
This is a very powerful story.  I recommend it to all.   It is an excellent introduction to what most may find a wonderful new writer.

Mel u

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