"Goin' Down to Anglotown":
Bill has a short story in the anthology The Dragon and the Stars, a collection of original short fiction "melding the rich cultural heritage of China with the imaginative realms of fantasy and science fiction."
The Dragon and the Stars, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, won the Aurora Award, given
in 2011 for Best English Related Work.
"Goin' Down to Anglotown" satirizes stories from the old pulp magazine era to recent years, and from old movies and TV shows, that present Chinatowns as exotic, mysterious places with hidden passages; hostile, violent men; and beautiful but treacherous women—in a role reversal. The story takes place in an alternate world where the West Coast of the United States has an Asian-descended majority population. Three recent college grads decide to have dinner in Anglotown, one of the exotic communities in Los Angeles.
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An excerpt from "Goin' Down to Anglotown":
Some of the tourist-based businesses in Anglotown had the pointed windows, steep gables, and gingerbread of Victorian homes. The shapes created other-worldly shadows, hinting at ghosts from when California was mostly Anglo and Hispanic. Other buildings reflected Colonial Revival, meaning a rectangular shape, two or three stories, symmetrical façades, brick or wood siding, pillars, and windows with shutters. Yet none of it seemed quite right; the shutters were just for show, nailed against the front walls, and many structures had been added awkwardly. Signs, written in archaic lettering, swung in the breeze from horizontal posts out front that evoked New England or Britain itself. None of it seemed to belong in Los Angeles, yet it all belonged in Anglotown.
“Smells good,” said Andy. “Is that meatloaf cooking?”
“I smell pot roast.” Garth, who knew about all kinds of food, raised his head and breathed in. “Hey, does this hakujin restaurant you like have cheap prime rib?”
Ken ignored him, eyeing a narrow storefront jammed between a big seafood restaurant with a Cape Cod front and a bank with a Victorian-era façade. “Chillicothe Katfish Kitchen” was painted on the door above “Genuine Missouri-Style Cuisine.”
An Asian couple in their twenties stepped out.
Ken caught the guy’s eye. “You know an Anglo named Smith?”
“Ha! You know one who's not?” The guy laughed way too loud.
With a sigh, Ken held the door for Andy and Garth so he could see for himself.
The restaurant was dark inside.
“Hi, welcome to the Chillicothe Katfish Kitchen.” Cindy Smith, according to her name tag, gave them a glittering smile and picked up some laminated menus.
“Hi.” Ken grinned, glad to see her again. “Three of us.”
“This way, please.” She didn’t seem to recognize him.
Andy stifled a laugh and nudged Ken in the ribs.
Cindy, who was about their age, was a pretty blonde with hair that might have been bleached or, considering her pale skin, might have been natural. She wore a retro 1950s outfit. It included a light blue stretch-fabric halter top without a bra, cut low to show off lots of cleavage and cropped to reveal her toned stomach; very tight, high-waisted white short-shorts; and white socks with red sneakers. Her hair was tied up in a swaying pony tail with a large, red bow.
Single candles burned in glass bulbs on each pink Formica table. The flickering candlelight threw myriad shadows. Ken wondered again if the building had secret rooms or hidden tunnels.
She turned at a red vinyl booth. “Will this be okay?”
“Sure,” said Ken, sitting down.
“Everything you got’s okay with me,” said Andy, grinning stupidly.
“Shut up and sit down,” Garth muttered.
Cindy laughed, her smile a little too bright. “What would you like to drink?”
“Grain Belt Golden draft, all around,” said Ken.
“You know your Anglo beer.” She gave him an even brighter smile and walked away, her ponytail and rear end swaying.
Garth pushed against Andy. “Shove over, damn it. I need more space. What the hell’s Grain Belt Golden?”
“A Midwestern lager,” said Ken. “You can only get it in Anglotown. But Anglotown’s turning into Euro Fusion, anyway. Little Eire’s got Scottish bars. Frogtown keeps fighting to keep out the Little Deutschland shops. All the bok gwai los are adjacent now. In fact, Grain Belt Golden’s more German than Anglo, but what the hell.”
“Yeah, what the hell, Anglo-Saxons started out in Germany.” Garth glared at him. “But if it’s lousy, I’m blaming you.”
(End of excerpt)