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This collection of short stories chronicles the life of a Japanese American born and raised on the edge of Harlem after his family moved to New York following internment during World War II. Set largely in the neighborhood near Columbia University, it provides a unique perspective of a multicultural community in transition, navigating the issues of identity, death, the Vietnam War, drugs, military duty, and coming of age as a minority in a time of turmoil. These well-crafted tales are told in Tsujimoto’s poetic combination of New York street and elevated diction, reflecting the life of a high school dropout who eventually finds his way to college and a more fulfilling adult life.
Joe Tsujimoto graduated (with honors) from City College of New York and the University of Hawai‘i and taught at Taconic Prison in New York. He published a national award-winning book on creative writing strategies for students, Teaching Poetry Writing to Adolescents, as well as the teacher text Lighting Fires: How the Passionate Teacher Engages Adolescent Writers. He has been keynote speaker at educational conferences and has read his work around the country; he is currently a teacher at Punahou School in Honolulu.
The street lights on Amsterdam swept down to the ravine of 125th Street, then rose steeply uphill for ten city blocks. It was like the first drop on a roller coaster. Nothing would ever be like it again. Like the first snowfall, the first kiss (Christine on the lips as soft as salamanders), the first time you walked across the Washington Bridge, or 10-year-old DeMoralis chasing a twenty-five cent, balsa wood glider run down by a car on Morningside Drive, or the death of a father, and every time you fell in love. I mean, there had to be more.
- from "Morningside"