Chiefly character-driven, Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me and Other Stories by Cyril Wong takes us to the highs and lows of life in Singapore. We feel a spectrum of emotions throughout the collection as a child deals with a loss of a family member; a movie ticket clerk dines with a wealthy woman he just met; a philanthropist reminisces his journeys in charity work; and a single mother pilfers a pair of pants for his son, among others.
In “Susan’s Certainty,” a story where a woman ventures into introspection brought about by experiencing different forms of art, Wong writes: “All of these things connected with her, releasing a surge of emotional fulfillment […] leaving her dazed and relieved that someone had articulated her private miseries through art.” This seemingly cements Wong’s goal with this collection; he paints the foil of Singapore’s hustle and bustle—a city where individuals dwell with uncertainty, crises, and loneliness.
Wong wrote most of the stories as fictional while some are saliently autobiographical. But, there is noticeable poetry in his fiction in the way it carefully magnifies beautiful, strange, moving, and poignant imagery in the lives of his characters.
[Cover art from Epigram Books.]