Helena Grice
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Tripmaster Monkey
His Fake Book (1989)
in Maxine Hong Kingston
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After Kingston's first two books, the quiet bemusement of critics which was the predominant response to Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book came as quite a change. Tripmaster Monkey actually only covers a two-month period in 1963 in the life of young would-be beatnik, Chinese American graduate Wittman Ah Sing, but through a series of nine relatively unconnected episodes, Kingston manages to capture the mood and tone of the whole era. The nine episodes or chapters which comprise Tripmaster Monkey track Wittman's literal journey through Berkeley and its environs, and his metaphorical journey in search of his identity. Along the way, he encounters a series of characters, including would-be sexual partners, his future wife Taña, soul-mates, friends and relatives, all of whom ultimately all come together to help Wittman stage a play at the culmination of the novel.

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