The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee, a Brief Opinion

by PDXJPrice

The Night my Mother Met Bruce Lee by Paisley Rekdal is a most unusual memoir. That's what makes it memorable.

Paisely Rekdal is a novelist, poet and essayist. She grew up in Seattle, the daughter of a Chinese woman and a Norwegian father, She currently resides in Utah with her two adorable dogs. She has been awarded a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, and a Fulbright Fellowship to South Korea. In addition to her own books, her work has been included in various anthologies including Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (2006) and the 2010 Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Rekdal teaches at the University of Utah.

The Night my mother Met Bruce Lee

by Paisley Rekdal

The Night my mother Met Bruce Lee is an unusual essay/memoir, both in form and content. In it is Rekdal's trademark wit and uncanny knack for the human language. We also see a less than flattering view of the Kung Fu Master.

The style is very conversational and poetic. It begins in present tense through the eyes of the mother, and then jumps, ever so smoothly, into the eyes of thirteen year old Paisley herself. This jump suits the theme well. Rekdal has such precision control over language and her story that she makes this work beautifully.

The language is simple and unassuming and does not insult the readers’ intelligence. It has lots of white space and short sentences and paragraphs, with just enough dialogue.

What this reviewer enjoyed in particular, though, was the actual encounter with Bruce Lee; the way we are introduced to Bruce Lee without being told that we are meeting Bruce Lee. We know it is him based on the title of the piece and the description of the character, but his name is not mentioned during the scene. This allows the reader to figure it out and enjoy the discovery, and is an excellent example of how to show and not tell.

 By the end of the piece, we find that Rekdal’s mother was less than enamored with him and the event didn’t seem to have much interest to her, though Rekdal clearly thought "[it] was officially the only cool thing about her.”  The unassuming style in which the story was told only adds to the idea that it really wasn’t a big deal to the mother. He was just another big dreaming, arrogant bus boy. It’s not a flattering image of Lee, but, rather, one of a brash and annoying wannabe.

Her style is concise and conversational and it breathes. It allows the reader to form their own opinions, and the reader is given terrifically concrete details with which to accomplish this task. The opening paragraph where we are brought in close to the tray of food her mother is carrying is ripe with details and color. Every sense is accounted for, including smell, the most difficult of all senses to write about.

The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee is  a short and brilliant piece of literature and this reviewer cannot recommend it enough.

Paisley Rekdal and her Dogs (W.T. Pfefferle, Poets on Place.)
Paisley Rekdal and her Dogs (W.T. Pfe...
Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee
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When you come from a mixed race background as Paisley Rekdal does — her mother is Chinese American and her father is Norwegian– thorny issues of identity politics, and interraci...

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Justin's writing can also be found at the links below, as well as in several issues of efiction magazine and the Bellwether Review. he is the managing editor for efiction horror. This was his Eighth Wizzley article. Thanks for reading. 


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The Night my Mother Met Bruce Lee by Paisley Rekdal is a most unusual memoir. That's what makes it memorable. (by PDXJPrice)
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Updated: 10/05/2012, PDXJPrice
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


NateB11 on 05/21/2014

Sounds like a well-written and interesting piece. I might have to check it out.

PDXJPrice on 10/05/2012

Thanks for bringing it to mind. I found it in the public domain with no attribution. I have updated the text to show authorship.

wtpfefferle on 10/05/2012

The photo of Rekdal and her dogs was taken by W.T. Pfefferle for his book Poets on Place.

PDXJPrice on 07/23/2012

No problem, Katie. Paisley Rekdal is a fantastic author!

katiem2 on 07/22/2012

WOW how cool, Bruce Lee is such a great actor and talented athlete. Thanks for the review and recommendation :)K

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