The journalist talks about his Atlantic piece on two men named Richard who disappeared in Alaska. Read the story here.
My story about missing persons in Alaska, in the April 2016 issue of The Atlantic. Dedicated to Dolly, Heidi, Leon, Jane and Leroy — the people left behind, resilient souls all. Read the story here.
As a writer and journalist, do I cultivate a sense of hope or hopelessness in readers? Journalist Mallary Jean Tenore and I discuss the idea of Restorative Narrative. Check it out.
Q: Your book “Little Big Man: In Search of My Asian Self” has gotten wonderful reviews. What do you most want readers to get from your book?
A: I think it depends on the reader. If you feel like an outsider, one thing to take away is that you’re really not alone even if it feels that way, that you’re actually in good company. And whatever state you’re in today will not last forever. One of my favorite lines from the movie 127 Hours — about a young man who’s pinned by a boulder — is “Everything is moving all the time.” It refers to rocks and geological formations, but it’s also true of emotional and developmental states. It’s also true of geopolitics and history, and this is one of the themes of Big Little Man. The first shall be last shall be first shall be last. Empires rise and fall. Peasants rise up and rule. A person who may have been a slave in one era may become a president in this era. I think just knowing the mutability of most things can have the effect of setting you free, particularly from mental or emotional shackles. Or it can at least begin the process.
If you’re an Asian in the United States, feeling left out of the American story, or cut off from your ethnic lineage, one idea to get from the book is that you can’t wait for the world to give you worth or to fill in the blanks of your story. You could wait forever. Sometimes you have to be the one to do the work of constructing your own story and connecting it to a larger narrative.
One of the hardest jobs a journalist will ever do is interview someone who’s just experienced a tragedy. I hated doing it but I did it anyway. In this essay, I explain why. I talk about my interviews with Richard Zapata, who’s daughter Mia was raped and murdered in Seattle in the 1990s. The case went unsolved for ten years, and I interviewed Richard several times during that period. The essay is a chapter in a new book, edited by Peter Laufer, called Interviewing: The Oregon Method. Read the essay here.