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Rolling the R's

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  375 ratings  ·  39 reviews
By R. Zamora Linmark.
Hardcover, 168 pages
Published December 2nd 1995 by Kaya/Muae
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(showing 1-30 of 636)
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An experimental book about a bunch of Filipino, genderqueer kids living in 1970s Hawaii. While the fragmented structure of the story did not do too much for me, I appreciated Zamora Linmark's honest and sometimes brutal portrayal of postcolonial trauma and race relations. Linmark incorporated a ton of pop references that offset the serious stuff the fifth-graders in Rolling the R's face, and his consistent use of Pidgin English made the novel a unique read. Recommended to those interested in its ...more
this book is fragmented the way childhood feels. about a community of (mostly) genderqueer pilipina kids living in hawaii in the seventies. lots of pop culture references mixed with religion mixed with violence and poetry and school and assimilation and family. there is a lot of unprocessed abuse in here, raw and confusing like it feels as a kid. kids leading other kids into violent situations thinking they are helping. kids still being kids pretending to be charlie's angels, arguing over who ge ...more
Sian Jones
I originally read this in 2002 and re-read it this month while I was in Hawaii, because apparently that's the kind of book I bring with me on vacation, fabulous prose poems about growing up queer in Hawaii in the 1970s. I brought it with me partly because I remembered it as more light-hearted than it is. What I remembered most was the brilliance with which it acts as a cultural artifact; any book that describes playing Charlie's Angels with friends is going to resonate with me. This time through ...more
We read this for my class in Asian American literature and one of my classmates, a poet from his community, brought the author in for her oral presentation about the book. He was really cool and I was kind of amazed at how well he understood what he did with the book. Few authors seem to admit to it. The book was at times a harsh read because of the narration of the sexual experience of 10 year olds, but he showed their agency and also explained that he was trying to show how fast they were forc ...more
Oct 16, 2008 Carlyn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Queers, visitors to O'ahu, queer visitors to O'ahu
Recommended to Carlyn by: Aiden
Shelves: queer, hawaiiana, fiction
Wow. Unlike anything I've ever read. Poetic, chaotic, disturbing and fragmented to reflect the world of the main characters, mostly a bunch of queer/lost/melodramatic/using/abusing/abused 5th grade Filipino students in one of O'ahu's most downtrodden immigrant neighborhoods in the 70's. (The burro, Kalihi, is still the island epicenter for the freshest immigrants, the worst schools, drug problems, and gang acivity.)

A huge portion of the book is written in Pidgin, the local dialect which evolved
i bought a copy of this book off the street one day for a dollar because I liked it so much the first time i read it. sometimes i think i missed out on the era of tiger beat, andy gibb, farrah fawcett hair, disco and i glamorize it a bit...this is a book about growing up in oahu- Filipino, immigrant, mixed race, queer, trans, dealing with drug addicted/alcoholic adults, precarious first sexual experiences, domestic violence, class-oppression, racism and homophobia- and it reminds me that the u.s ...more
I love the way that the fragmented narrative reflects the way life is experienced. No one event is given priority in determining the identity of a character; they are not just queer or just immigrants from colonized countries, they are whole characters who have been shaped by all of their experiences.

The pidgin language used in the text is rich and adds to the sense of place in the novel. Although the narrator switches constantly, and the novel is not at all linear, it all flows together well to
Jan 14, 2012 Ie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Perhaps the most enjoyable literature is one that is immediate, which means extremely familiar: you just get it from the get go, no Wikipedia necessary.

It doesn't happen often. As many of the middle-class, university-bred, English-fluent, postmodern, Filipino intelligentsia members are, I am quite estranged to my own literature. I am not proud of this.

So what joy to have stumbled upon Rolling The R's, and to have seen it, well, roll. To identify with it is a no-brainer: it's chiefly about Filip
So there are books that don't necessarily have a definite ending and I am normally okay with it. Take for example, Murakami's work. But THIS book totally threw me off. I think its really very interesting the way it has been fragmented though. Had I simply seen it on a self I would have definitely not read it but being mandatory as it was, I had to and I thought it was truly an eye opening in many senses. its actually a fun packed book, only, structured in a weird manner. Its amazing how fast kid ...more
Read for class, probably wouldn't read again. Thirty-one of us and only me and one other person (a pidgin speaker) liked it.

I wonder if Rolling was written contemporaneously, like from a journal or did Linmark research his extensive pop culture references? Heavy references to Farrah Fawcett aside, this is a tough read. Ultimately, I coped with reading this by suspending my awareness that the main characters were supposed to be in elementary school; as if they were X-rated Peanuts—sans Snoopy an
Izetta Autumn
There's a term,gender-F@$&, which basically means to screw up any accepted idea one has about gender. In Rolling the Rs it is done superbly, not only by screwing up notions of gender, but also with the entire structure of the novel itself, right down to the packaging (oversized, non-standard book - make what puns you will). The book is posed to f#$% over our asscoiations with gender, nationality, ethinicity, language, and even narrative form.

I loved this book. It is smart, it is literary, a
Linmark's first collection of fiction contains episodes about several teens, mostly Filipino, queer, and speak in Pidgin English. He experiments a lot with voice - episodes vary from 3rd person commentary on the peeping Tom habits of boy's father to angry letter writing to made-for-stage dialogue. His characters are rebellious, sexual, and talented in ways that go unrecognized by their teachers and parents.

This is definitely a piece of post-modern literature in that you will have some difficult
Eric Gulliver
This is a hybridized text that follows the childhood experiences of (lower class) Hawiian youth. In a mixture of personal essay, short story, book report, poetry, and first person narration, Linmark blends many scraps of literature in order to portray identity as fragmented yet combined. In what can be labeled as a post-modern text, the divided sections follow the children (Edgar, Vincente Katrina, etc)as they attend school, interact with family and friends, and engage in early sexual activity. ...more
Parts of this reminded me of a boxer, dodging, diving, punting, going in for the K.O.
"The Sentencing of Lives, Or Why Edgar Almost Failed Mrs. Takemoto's Class" Words! What a mastery of words! I want to call it a double entendre, but it's more, so much more.
Encapsulated everything I've been thinking about, and went beyond it. on rage, on love, on being young and wanting-- no, needing to be loved, on the violence of the English language, on colonization as an act of penetration, of fragility sh
Gianna Mosser
Teenage isolation, questions of identity, burgeoning sexual autonomy and commodification - this first book was dynamic and arresting.
Rolling the R's is an amazing book! I highly recommend it if you want to learn about growing up on Hawaii as a QPOC.
A wonderful book that I recently read and saw in play form. The jacket descriptions focuses on the coming out tale of a young boy in a Filipino American community in Kalihi, Hawai'i, circa 1970, but this book is also so much more. Language politics (pidgin vs. "standard" English); intergenerational and more-often-than-not disturbing love affairs, immigrant politics, etc etc all run through this text. The book will take you a day to read, but the story will stay with you for much longer. I highly ...more
Kevin Coleman
So many pop culture references that you may think this book is just fluff-n-stuff. But no, TV shows like Charlie's Angels provide elaborate fantasy material for a group of Hawaiian-pidgin speaking pre-teens who are marginalized because of language, economic and educational status, and sexuality. So it has a deeper meaning, okay? Scott Baio obsessions are more than just Scott Baio obsessions. Well, maybe. Pop-culture provides escape, and yes, entry into the world which excludes them in real life.
I read this book for a Comparative Literature class, where we are focusing on Language and Diasporas. A perfect book for such topics. I ended up reading ahead, got through the entire book within a day. Man did I love it. The use of pidgin, the pop culture references. The book has it's own basic soundtrack, this meant coming into my lecture class while my professor played Donna Summers and other disco music. An amazing books, though it appears easy when reading, there is so much for it it.
"11. clandestine, adj. In this class is a clandestine boy who freaked out after I gave him a torrid kiss."
Each chapter in Rolling the R's is a different form. I'm not really into experimental fiction, but I recommend this book to those who are interested in experimental writing and race/class/gender/queer issues. Rolling the R's is pretty hilarious at points. The vocab test (excerpt above), book report, and progress notes chapters were most entertaining.
The author gives a glimpse into a Filipino community on Oaho in the 70s, but then puts up cultural and language barriers, giving the reader the same feeling of limited access that the community has about mainstream American culture--which permeates the characters' lives.

This book blew a lot of ideas away that I didn't even know were lurking in the recesses of my brain. I wish I could say more, but I'm just not smart enough. I'm going to read it again.
Very interesting, chaotic yet fun read. The Pidgin English can sometimes be challenging to follow if you have not been part of that culture but I think that is what adds to the fun of it. Just like the characters in the book, the structure of chapters, etc. were all over the map. I think it captured what it might be like in a tween's mind, with all of the hormones raging and their exploration of sexuality.
Jun 02, 2007 Snarky's rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Erika Lopez or Jessica Hagedorn
I love that this novel just goes for it. It's balls to the walls and out there. Sometimes when I read fiction by and about people of color I cringe when there's too much explanation of the culture/lifestyle/etc. I love it when a novel just tells its story and fuck you if you don't know what a jherri curl is. This is one of those kinds of books. It's not really for everyone but that's okay. The best novels never are.
Is this a novel or a bunch of poetic prose arranged in a loose narrative? I liked the offbeat quirky style, which works well given the characters are a motely bunch of mixed race kids growing up and getting intro trouble in mixed-up 1970's Hawaii. Some of the vignettes are downright hilarious, and others quite poignant. No doubts though, that this book is for ADULTS.
Bizarre, prose and poetry, like nothing I've read before. Took a few chapters before I could really get into this book but once I accepted that I might not be able to piece it all together in the first read, I let go and found that I enjoyed it in all its messy strangeness.
Christopher Tirri
An absolutely amazing, not to mention unapologetically queer, novel that explores the performativity of identity, the iconic status of Farrah Fawcett of the disco queens, and the importance of queerness in creating community in the face of an assimilationist agenda.
I think this is out of print now, a forgotten favorite. Written partly in pidgin, narrative fiction from the point of view of queer/trans filipina young people, growing up is hard. Loved the pop culture references, loved the multicultural setting in Hawaii.
Another amazing book I read this semester, which deals with social mobility, sexuality and commercialism in the context of life during the 90's in Hawaii. Certainly a new insight into 'American' culture. It also contains some interesting literary styles.
Miss Jones
The idea of bi-culturalism and 2nd generation immigrant culture.... Also, a great job at giving an awareness and intellegence to young adult characters. It's not just hormones and sugar rushes...
While providing a critique of Hawaiian-Filipino-American relations, this book has many elements that outright disturbed me. I don't think children would act like this. I won't be reading it again.
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R. Zamora Linmark is the author of Rolling The R’s, Prime Time Apparitions, The Evolution of a Sigh, and Leche, sequel to Rolling The R’s. A two-time Fulbright Scholar, he has received grants and fellowships from the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission, and twice from the Fulbright Foundation, in 1998, and as a Senior Scholar in 2005.

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“They say the eyes speak a thousand languages, but the lips, honey, the lips hold a million secrets—and it’s the secrets that attract attention.” 4 likes
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