Cruising 99 Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

At thirteen pages and with nine sections, “Cruising 99” is the longest poem in Hongo’s collection Yellow Light. It is also the poem that uses the most variety of line length, meter, stanza, and mood. Though there is a narrative thread to the poem, it is a thin one, broken up with both jazz lyrics and meditative monologue. The many voices Hongo uses in the poem caused one critic to call him “the Rich Little of Asian American writing.” His facility is evident, as he stretches readers’ minds and limbers his own creative sinews by experimenting with forms and focus. His indebtedness to Beat generation writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg is evident, as is his love of music. Hongo dedicated the volume to his wife, violinist and musicologist Cynthia Thiessen.

Highway 99 is an old route that connects the inland cities of the West Coast from Mexico to Canada. Hongo’s “cruise” along it took him and two friends around Southern California, an area they knew well. In describing rich landscapes of walnut groves, arroyos, and manzanita, Hongo is also obsessively searching for some compelling truths about his own origins and identity as the car heads for a town called Paradise. He has remarked that such preoccupations are “more than a nostalgia or even a semi-learned atavism, though these things certainly play their parts. It is rather a way to isolate, and to uphold, cultural and moral value in a confusing time and...

(The entire section is 458 words.)

Cruising 99 Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Gunew, Sneja. “Gendered Reading Tactics: Public Intellectuals and Community in Diaspora.” Resources for Feminist Research 29, nos. 3/4 (Fall/Winter, 2001): 57-73.

Hongo, Garrett. “A Vicious Kind of Tenderness: An Interview with Garrett Hongo.” Interview by Alice Evans. Poets and Writers 20, no. 5 (September/October, 1992): 36-46.

Ikeda, Stewart David. “The Open Boat: Poems from Asian America.” Ploughshares 20, no. 1 (Spring, 1994): 202-205.

Jarman, Mark. Review of Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai’i, by Garrett Hongo. The Southern Review 32, no. 2 (Spring, 1996): 337-344.

Monaghan, Peter. “How a Small, Nondescript Writing Program Achieved Distinction.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 44, no. 33 (April 24, 1998): A13-A15.

Muratori, Fred. Review of The River of Heaven, by Garrett Hongo. Library Journal 113 (May 1, 1988): 81-82.

Pettingell, Phoebe. “The River of Heaven.” The New Leader 71, no. 10 (June 13, 1988): 16.

Schultz, Robert. “Passionate Virtuosity.” Hudson Review 42 (Spring, 1992): 149-157.

Slowik, Mary. “Beyond Lot’s Wife: The Immigration Poems of Marilyn Chin, Garrett Hongo, Li-Young Lee, and David Mura.” MELUS 25, nos. 3/4 (Fall/Winter, 2000): 221-242.

Yu, Larry. “Under Western Eyes: Personal Essays from Asian America.” Amerasia Journal 22, no. 3 (Winter, 1996): 169-172.