Lost in Place; Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia
Jessica Yu (Author photograph) New York: Random House, 1992. First Edition [stated], presumed first printing. Hardcover. The format is approximately 6 inches by 8.5 inches. , 273,  pages. Minor endpaper soiling. Describes the author's early years as an ambitious and eccentric young man who stood out from his family and neighborhood, his kung fu lessons under the tutelage of a sadist, and his often misguided mimicry of Zen Buddhist practices. Mark Joseph Salzman (born December 3, 1959 in Greenwich, Connecticut) is an American writer. Salzman is best known for his 1986 memoir Iron & Silk, which describes his experiences living in China as an English teacher in the early 1980s. The book was made into a 1990 film of the same title. Salzman wrote the screenplay and starred as himself in the film. After receiving his 2000 Guggenheim Fellowship, Mark Salzman spent time as a stay-at-home parent. Salzman, along with three other men, was featured in the 2007 documentary Protagonist, directed by his wife, Jessica Yu. Common to his later works is a theme of struggling to reach an ideal but falling short, and the quiet changes within a person who faces the possibility of never achieving their goal. Derived from a Kirkus review: An affectionate and often incisive appraisal of the author's thoroughly peculiar yet thoroughly representative suburban Connecticut adolescence. He begins here by narrating drolly the quintessentially American way his interest in China started: At 13 he saw a kung fu movie and suddenly developed a conviction that he would become a Zen monk. He built a shrine around some chopsticks and incense, purchased a Surprise Bald Head Wig in lieu of cutting off his hair, and soon began taking kung fu lessons, in which he persisted. Salzman recalls his conflicted allegiances to several role models: his terrifying, drunken, somehow inspiring kung fu master, Sensei O'Keefe; his fellow kung fu student Michael, whose fatherless home full of delinquent brothers was the opposite of Salzman's own orderly household; and especially his father, who managed to refrain from expressing disapproval even in the face of his son's undigested Zen babble. A high school teacher persuaded Salzman to study Chinese language and culture seriously, and he wound up learning traditional landscape painting from a waiter at the local Chinese restaurant. Salzman's gentle mockery of adolescent foibles is so dead-on that he achieves Waugh-like moments of hilarity. After a particularly psychotic demonstration by Sensei O'Keefe, Salzman quit kung fu, which ended his friendship with Michael. He graduated from high school a year early and played jazz cello in the basement. Then he went to Yale, had bouts of fairly ordinary existential malaise, and emerged wiser. Salzman engagingly describes teen malleability. Condition: Very good / Very good.
Keywords: Social Conditions, Social Life, Ridgefield, Connecticut, Kung Fu, China, Zen Buddhism, Sensei O'Keefe, Family, Relationships, Coming-of-Age