A friend's suicide reunites a group of friends held together by their experiences as young urban Chinese Canadian males.






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Banana Boys

Banana Boys
a novel by Terry Woo
Riverbank Press, Toronto, 2000, 378 pp, $22.99


o I'm going down the highway, heading east on the I-90 from Buffalo, feeling pretty mellow and doing about 125 clicks. I'm taking a break from work, and I'm on my way to visit my sister in Boston.

     It's a nice day -- the late August sun's shining, traffic is light, and upstate New York looks as brown and as unappealing as ever. I'm on my motorcycle, well beyond the state speed limit, not really understanding or caring what the equivalent is in kilometers... playing Russian Roulette with state troopers is a favourite pastime. The wind feels good through a gap in my leather jacket newly torn by my neighbor's dog, Wilson. The bike's handling well, and I've got the harsh sounds of Ministry ripping through my ears on my discman.

     Life can be quite good.

     When I was a little kid, my family used to go on trips like this all over the place. Me with my father on his Harley, my sister Janice with mom on her slightly-less powerful Honda, taking off from the urban wastes of Toronto and going wherever... Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal a few times, or up north to places with plenty of trees and fish. I remember the arguments my parents used to have -- all in good fun, of course -- about the advantages and disadvantages of American versus Japanese bikes, at diners and truck stops while we stuffed ourselves with greasy burgers, stale fries and sub-standard soups. I tell you, we must have been a sight to all those highway regulars -- an Asian family, clad from head to toe in black leather, eating and arguing in a half-Chinese, half-English jabber.


     Now, I usually travel alone. It's a lot easier that way. There's a wonderful sense of freedom in travelling alone -- no worries, no responsibilities. No fights over the music, no inane small talk. It's pure ponder time. I can even sing along with the music without untowardly embarrassing myself.

     My name's Luke Yeung. I'm 26 years old. I'm a full-time disc jockey at an upstart Toronto radio station that specializes in alternative industrial music. By day, I do The Morning Mosh, a refreshing and violently anarchist alternative to that Wacky-Pair-Of-Disc-Jockeys-Thing that I'm sure has worn out its welcome on airwaves across the continent. By night, I play the underground rave scene in TO, dropping a collection of funky Breaks to moon-eyed youngsters hopped up on PLUR, among other things.

     I'm on vacation for a few weeks --Zeesh better not fucking screw up my playlists! -- and on a lark, I'm going to see Janice for a few days. Janice is my little sister. We get along great. She's cool.

     I come up to one of those classic Volkswagen vans -- an orange anachronism with flowery curtains, Bondo spots, Deadhead stickers plastered on the side windows. I exchanged peace signs with the long-haired occupants, who were sparking on up as I passed.