19 Literary, Musical, and Cultural Allusions in Chinese Gucci
I was introduced to the Italian Renaissance Painters through Saturday morning cartoons. Yes, I admit that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles peaked my curiosity. Later as a teen, I discovered the women beat writers through the stories of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Cassidy. I spent countless hours reading one book then jumping to subsequent books like freight trains in search of new adventures and knowledge. The fact that Hosho McCreesh’s debut novel weaves allusions throughout is only one of the many reasons that Chinese Gucci is a must read. I have great admiration for Hosho’s work and how he continues to take risks. Check out some of the allusions below and then check out the interview I did with Hosho about his new book.
When Asked, here is what Hosho had to say about literary allusions in his debut novel:
I have to admit that I love references and allusions in almost everything. Not only can these influences and allusions reveal character, they connect material, bringing to light other books or movies or music that, if people aren’t already familiar with it, they might also enjoy. It’s both a way to honor and admit to work of the past, while giving people an “in” on an allusion is sorta like folks having bragging rights. It can also draw a together an artistic and cultural neural network that shares something in theme and spirit…a kind of word-of-mouth recommendation even across the ages. So, naturally, I do a fair amount if this in my work. I won’t give them all away, but here’s a list of 19 Literary, Musical, and Cultural Allusions in Chinese Gucci
1 – “Shiiiiiiiit” – Akira and his friends steal this affectation from Senator Clay Davis on HBO’s The Wire
2 – In Chapter 4, Akira imagines trying to kill J. D. Salinger as he storms the beach during the D-Day invasion in the imaginary video game Operation Overlord. This is obviously a tip-of-the-hat to The Catcher in the Rye, a huge influence on Chinese Gucci, and I just love the fact that Salinger reportedly had chapters of Catcher in his rucksack on the beach at Normandy.( https://www.biography.com/news/j-d-salinger-documentary-interesting-facts )
3 – Leeches of Lore – Leeches of Lorechestra For my money, they’re Albuquerque’s mightiest band ever, and not only did they let me use their music for all my promotional videos, I was at this show when they recorded this album. To top it all off, they gave a free digital download of the album to everyone who buys a special editions!
4 – José Alfredo Jiménez – “En el Ultimo Trago” for friend and fellow writer and artist Jose Pepe Arroyo. He helped me get a lot of the border-town Spanish down right, and this song it one of his favorites. It just sounds like the southwest, sounds like New Mexico, and sometimes, even without understanding the Spanish, you just want a sad, drunken, heartbroken tune about love gone wrong.
5 – Not that any one else would know this, but the churros and cokes reference in Chapter 11 is a nod to our “family-moon” to Disneyland in 2015…as we basically kept our kiddo alive on that, being it was the most affordable food while there!
6 – Pink Floyd’s – “Wish You Were Here” was included both for my brother, and for a great friend of mine who passed years ago. And hot damn, what an album cover.
7 – Breaking Bad – in recent memory, few things have become more deeply associated with Albuquerque than both Breaking Bad and the spin-off series Better Call Saul, so it makes sense it comes up in conversation when traveling.
8 – Akira’s father is usually listening to jazz. In his scenes there are references to “Girl From Impanema,” Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis.
9 – Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused – In a pinch, Akira tends to fall into mimicry and imitation — in fact most of his life is some kind of performance, to the point that he hardly even realizes when he’s doing it. When trying to buy booze underage, he resorts to the exact same tactics he’s seen work in the movie…with limited success.
10 – Akira also listens to rap: Snoop Dogg – “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?”, Public Enemy, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Nas. This song works a couple of ways — both as a kick-ass jam (despite YouTube not allowing the explicit version) and because Akira basically has no idea who he really is.
11 – The Criterion Collection’s Edition of Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend is directly referenced, and, like anyone who has ever watched it, Akira has no goddamned idea what’s going on…but it’s tremendously compelling all the same. It made sense that his interest in film meant he would be drawn to the mystery and frenzy of Godard.( https://www.criterion.com/films/28441-weekend )
12 – John Fante’s Ask the Dust. An amazing book, with one of the best endings ever. I want to write about New Mexico the way Fante writes about L.A.
13 – There’s an in-joke about the actual Chinese Gucci promotional T-shirt I’m making with local printer Darko Printshop as someone is wearing one during swimming pool scene.
14 – Akira’s hair ends up looking a little Jim Jarmusch-y — whose films I really enjoy. Strangers in Paradise, Down by Law, and Dead Man — they share something in both the style and pace of the book. And, I mean, this scene…ugh…it’s everything I’d love Gucci to be!
15 – Following edits, what was left in two elevator scenes were a couple subtle references to “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” — one of my favorite short stories of all time.
16 – One of my favorite sentences in any story ever is, “The German girls are not beautiful.” in Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” So, as an homage, I basically swiped it for Chapter 56 the way rappers bite hooks.
17 – I can’t lay claim to being a huge horror fan, but the mention of an S*Mart bag in Chapter 56 is a reference to Army of Darkness
18 – One of my good friends constantly quotes TV shows, and I believe he swiped the “saved your precious Europe” line from the The King of Queens…so I guess that’s where Akira swiped it from.
19 – Another buddy, Jay Martini, — talking about Pabst Blue Ribbon beer — coined the phrase, “They don’t give Blue Ribbons to second-place beers!” It’s one of the best lines I’ve ever heard, so I continue to put it my books.
*As a bonus, though not anything IN the book: the release date, November 30th, is my mom’s Life Day…and, as the book is dedicated to the doctor that saved her, both figured largely in the why and how of the writing — so it was truly the only day of the year to release Chinese Gucci.