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The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys


List Price: $24.00

April 4, 2006 | Hardcover | 6 x 8.7, 352 Pages | ISBN 9781582433431
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"The book is informed by the Vietnamese immigrations of the nineteen-seventies but is filled with social observation of contemporary middle-class culture and indie sensibility... Quietly beautiful, Strom's stories are hip without being ironic." —The New Yorker

In this stunning new book, four tales of love and desire reveal the complications of living in a modern global village. In this beautifully written, psychologically astute examination of the rites of female passage, the acclaimed Dao Strom takes us from girlhood to young womanhood, wifehood and motherhood. Told in four sections, each story introduces us to a compelling young woman and the questions before her, set against the jungle and noise of America today. In this elegant rendering of the rites of passage, we meet four unique young women: Mary, a film student in college who is full of yearning but finds herself confounded by the casual give-and-take of the people around her. Darcy, a twenty-something musician, who must confront the dark and unknown in the form of a naked stranger who repeatedly breaks into her ramshackle sublet. Leena, aged thirty, isolated and alone after having been transplanted from Vietnam to Texas through marriage to an American business man. And finally Sage, a new mother in her early thirties who finds herself entertaining thoughts of her son’s preschool teacher while on a road trip with her four-year-old boy and his father. With both shrewd insight into the moral perils of contemporary life and unwavering compassion for the missteps we make along the way, The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys is a major accomplishment from an exciting new talent.

About Dao Strom

DAO STROM was born in 1973 in Saigon. Her mother fled the country with her when she was a baby, and she grew up in northern California. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is the recipient of a James Michener fellowship, the Chicago Tribune /Nelson Algren Award, and a 2004 NEA Literature Fellowship. She lives in Austin, Texas, and teaches creative writing at Texas State University.


“Small moments carry enormous weight in these four loosely linked novellas about young Vietnamese women living in present-day California and Texas . . . For Strom, the most ordinary events—eating ice cream, swatting a fly—contain minor epiphanies that can delicately convey her characters’ sense of disconnection and longing. Though such moments sometimes strain under the burden of significance, Strom, like her character Mary, more often wisely leaves her audience “a little wanting—she will do no interpreting for them.” —Publishers Weekly

“The book is informed by the Vietnamese immigrations of the nineteen-seventies but is filled with social observation of contemporary middle-class culture and indie sensibility . . . Quietly beautiful, Strom’s stories are hip without being ironic.” —The New Yorker

“For all the anticipation of new titles that come with a season, there is also the pleasure in anticipating the return of a book that first came out thirteen years ago and then disappeared for reasons having nothing to do with the book’s many merits. This most welcome reissue of four fictional pieces follows people in their early twenties finding their way into more fully adult lives, at least one in each story marked in some way by having come from Vietnam as a refugee. It brings a distinct narrative voice to affection and disaffection to the fore. It works subtly but powerfully, along with the other elements of nuance and knowing. We are very glad to see this book back.” —Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle, WA)

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