Dark Blue Suit (Paperback)
And Other Stories
University of Washington Press, 9780295976372, 192pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 1997
The book opens with the annual spring dispatch, by the Seattle-based Filipino union, of thousands of Filipino workers to the Alaska salmon canneries. We meet characters who reappear throughout the stories: Vince, the tough but charming union foreman and "big shot" father to Buddy, our American-born narrator; Chris, the battle-scarred union president targeted by McCarthyism; Rico, the spirited young king of the neighborhood who will fall victim to Vietnam; Stephanie, the beautiful mestiza who marrie up; and many others who age and change in ironic counterpint to persistent themes of loyalty, fierce ethnic pride, and a willingness to struggle against hostile forces in society. There are wry twists of humor and surprising turns of plot; a long-lost love is renewed; a long-hidden family secret is revealed.
We encounter the inevitable aging and passing of the Manong generation, but we sense as well the arrival of its vision. Babies are born. The migrant fisheries worker gets a nine-to-five job, and his children go to college. The conclusion builds to a quiet power that is essentially elegiac; an era closes, but the voices of the older generation are shouldered by the younger, to keep the history to retell the stories, and to pay homage.