I picked up the book Pangs of Love from a sale bin in a bookstore for one simple reason. I thought that any book with that cheesy a title would be fun to laugh at and offer many opportunities for satire. (I was with friends at the time.) But as I read the back cover of the handsome book jacket, I found myself seriously interested in its contents. Needless to say, I did end up reading Pangs of Love, a collection of short fiction.
David Wong Louie's stories focus on Chinese-American characters and their individual feelings of desperation and alienation. Yet despite the sad issues behind his work, I think Louie conveys an innate optimism in describing and embracing personal problems that have a great deal of universality. I found myself relating not only to most of the stories' protagonists, but to the majority of the characters in every story. Because I could bond with the characters and relate to the conflicts they faced, each of the stories has grown to have a lot of meaning to me and the problems I face.
I believe it was Shakespeare who said that life is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel. David Wong Louie has somehow combined both the comedic and the heart-rending in Pangs of Love. Through the pangs of laughter it induced in me and the love I began to feel for its characters, Pangs of Love has become my favorite book. For anyone who enjoys the medium of the short story, I believe it will do the same
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.