The Gangster of Love

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Rocky is a strong, literary-minded, ambitious girl with no idea of what she wants to do with her life. Her older brother, Voltaire, is no better off. They live with their stubborn, beauty-queen mother and help her with her catering business. Voltaire often brings home street artists, and one time brings home Elvis Chang. Rocky and Elvis immediately move in together. Soon after Rocky meets Elvis, she meets Keiko. Keiko is an artist of obscure ethnic origin who swallows fire on the streets for cash. Rocky, Elvis, and Keiko all decide to move to New York and soon after Rocky starts her band, The Gangsters of Love, with Elvis as the guitarist.

In New York, Rocky lives a decade of her life with no direction. Her life is a constant rotation of trying to earn enough money to keep the band going, working with the band, and partying with drugs and alcohol. Keiko becomes a famous artist, and eventually Elvis and Rocky break up. Once she reaches her thirties, Rocky begins to realize that this pointless lifestyle is not what she wants, so when she becomes pregnant she decides to keep the baby and make some changes.

Throughout the dead-end courses that Rocky always seems to choose, there is threaded the rich heritage of her Filipino upbringing. The decisions she makes are based on the unusual circumstances of her life; the navigation between the clashing cultures of the Philippines and the United States. After she gives birth to her daughter, Venus, and her mother dies, Rocky realizes that she has been running away from her life and her past. The band and partying was only a means of escape. Yet it is not until she is called to her father’s sick-bed in the Philippines that she realizes how far she has run trying to escape who she is. It is then that she finds a sense of closure to her extended youth, when she finally grows up.