Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

A World of Ideas with Bill Moyers

  • The Stories of Maxine Hong Kingston, Parts 1 and 2
  • Rating: *****
  • Audience: College to Adult
  • Price: Home use: $59.95
  • Date: Copyright 1990. Released 1990.
  • Descriptors: Kingston, Maxine Hong. Moyers, Bill. American literature. Women authors. Authors - American. Chinese Americans.
  • Production Information: Live action. Produced by Bill Moyers. Color . 56 min.
  • Production Company: Public Affairs Television
  • Available from: PBS Video 1320 Braddock Pl. Alexandria, VA 22314-1698 (703)739-5380
  • Cataloging: 813. Kingston, Maxine Hong||Chinese Americans in literature
  • Print Entry #: 2:352
  • Reviewer: Kathy J. Anderson

    This new PBS Video offering is appealing on a variety of levels. It offers a portrait of Maxine Hong Kingston, author of the two nonfictional works, The Woman Warrior and China Men, and Tripmaster Monkey (her first novel). The first half-hour of the tape focuses on the autobiographical influences in Hong Kingston's writing, such as her poet-father, her early feminist anger, and so on. Bill Moyers introduces the author, stating that her books are currently "the most widely taught on any American campus, more than any other American author." It is on this note that Hong Kingston begins to elaborate upon one of the main themes in her writing, the portrayal of the Chinese-American experience as a facet of the total American experience. She finds that the tendency to view Chinese culture as "exotic" denies "mystery" to others, and that the issues raised in her writings transcend the specifics of her heritage and apply to many ethnic groups. Thus, the program also speaks to the richness that the many groups in the American "melting pot" have brought to this country's culture as each has found what Hong Kingston calls their "voice" - the music of African Americans, for example - or the playful, fun-loving "monkey spirit" that the Chinese have introduced to balance Puritan seriousness.

    This author's thoughts on the human imagination ("A good strong imagination doesn't go off into some wild fantasy of nowhere; it goes to the truth") and her thorough examination of literary form and content provide insight into the craft of writing, making this video ideal for literature collections. A former student at Berkeley in the 1960s, Hong Kingston retains many of the values she formed during that period and still believes her role as an author is to change the world - albeit now "one word at a time."

    Although essentially a single-frame interview format, the pace never seems to slacken. Hong Kingston is as expressive and articulate in person as she is in her writing. Bill Moyers continues to have the knack of moving ideas along, often inspiring this author to make certain points but never becoming intrusive. The division of the tape into two segments is not disruptive; rather, the pause allows for a smooth transition in topics. Like numerous other video series hosted by Moyers, such as The Power of the Word, or Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth (see reviews in VRG, Winter and Fall 1990) and such author interviews as one with Toni Morrison, the production quality is exceptional.

    The Stories of Maxine Hong Kingston is very highly recommended for all collections.

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