Spotlight: Frances Park
It is a pleasure to feature the writing of Frances Park today on the Jimmy Broccoli page and website!
Frances Park is a phenomenal storyteller - with the very rare ability to successfully transport the reader into the middle of the narrative. Whether Frances is describing a restaurant (as she does in the excerpt below), her time as a young girl in Korea, or in any other situation - you are sitting beside her, walking along with her, or are somehow involved in the scene.
Frances' attention to detail and description make her words 'Pop' - turning words into scenes of clear, hi-density technicolor. In short - Frances Park writes exceptional narrative at a level and with a familiarity I recognize and very much admire. It is an honor to have her work presented here today.
Frances in her own words (her Bio follows the excerpt) :
ABOUT MY WRITING:
As a Korean American whose family arrived in the United States decades before the mass migration, my background is rich with unique history that works its way into my stories. When writing, I rarely think about plot or arc; I just listen to the deepest part of me and hope for magic. ________________ Excerpt from Frances' personal essay “Serving God, Meat and Intercourse in an Amish Diner” (Gulf Coast Magazine):
Ziggy Stardust and Southern Boogie dominated the FM airwaves the era I lived on greasy tacos from Jack-In-The-Box, ditched high school cap and gown for the beach, wrote poetry and drank vodka-laced Tab and was in love with two boys who were best friends, all the while struttin’ around with an ego I’d slap today. I was at an age when you think Life is more than it is, and every hour is journal worthy. I had dreams, you know, and they weren’t to grow up and be a mere whistle in the woods.
Now I’m in an Amish-owned restaurant off a country road in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with my eighty-two-year old Korean mother.
The vibes were good here, though. Quiet. We stumbled in at an off-hour for an early dinner as we were already out and about, and I was anxious to get back to our hotel room and call it a day. Our road trip every autumn is sacred on a plane where more, many more, lie ahead on our horizon but, funny thing, I’m a poor traveler, no sense of direction, easily frazzled and sometimes so busy measuring the earth’s bitch-o-meter I forget to live. My mom survived the Korean War and doesn’t give a damn.
“Someone don’t like me, I say, Puh, I don’t like you!”
After a greeting, a hostess takes us to a table by a window. A sunny waitress hands us menus. Grayish-blonde gals, if they don’t like us, they don’t show it. Like every baby boomer I think I look young for my age but maybe the real world, or at least rural Pennsylvania, sees us as two aging Orientals.
“Welcome, ladies. What can I get you to drink?”
For the record, I’m no frumpy Aunt Bee in big pants or Korean halmoni with a bad perm, aggressively steering a grocery cart in Lotte. I still look good in jeans and write my heart out like it’ll beat forever. Once in a blue moon, even dot on sparkly eye stuff and wanna go dancing even when there’s nowhere to go. I’m no granny in any language.
That said, walking on the wild side means coffee after three o’clock these days.
- Frances Park ________________ BIO:
I’m the author of the forthcoming memoir collection “That Lonely Spell: Stories of Family, Friends & Love” (Heliotrope Books/2022). Shortlisted for the 2019 Dzanc Novella Prize, and longlisted for the 2020 Dzanc Diverse Voices Book Award, I’m also the author or co-author of ten books published in seven languages including the literary novels “When My Sister Was Cleopatra Moon” (Hyperion) and “To Swim Across the World” (Hyperion), and the children’s book ”Good-bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong” (National Geographic Books), crowned ‘the perfect all-American story’ by Newsweek. A forthcoming children’s book “Grandpa’s Scroll” is forthcoming from Albert Whitman & Co.
My writing, highly anthologized and praised by the Times Literary Supplement, the Washington Post Book World and USA Today, has appeared in O: The Oprah Magazine, the forthcoming inaugural issue of THE COOLEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES ANTHOLOGY 2022, The Columbia Journal, Slice, The Chicago Quarterly, The Bellevue Literary Review, The London Magazine, Spirituality & Health Magazine, Solstice, Gulf Coast Journal, USA Today, USA Weekend, and Arts & Letters, to name a few. My personal essay “You Two Are So Beautiful Together” (Massachusetts Review/Summer 2016) earned a spot on THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2017 Notable List.
For my work, I’ve been interviewed on NPR, The Diane Rehm Show, Voice of America, CNN, Radio Free Asia and Good Morning America.