Jane Wong Recommends...

My debut memoir, Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City, begins and ends with fruit. A line from the opening reads: “In the murky broth of yet another heartache, my mother cuts me slices of dragon fruit.” So much of my writing process is about nourishment—literally and metaphorically. I think about the ways language has fed me as a poet, giving me agency with each salty image, each juice-dribbling ampersand. When I write, I always have snacks near me. During my 2017 residency at Hedgebrook in Washington, there was a snack corner filled with jars (like a bookshelf of snacks!). I swear I squealed from joy. I ate so much seaweed then; it’s where I began my memoir. Sesame oil lingered in between the clacking keys of my laptop. Eating keeps me writing. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lost in my writing, I’ll just pause and bite into a peach. Then I’ll try to spend an entire page (if not more) on that peach, creating layers of deep image, synesthesia, and memory. That peach will take me where I need to go if I zoom in long enough into its fuzzy hairs. When writing my memoir, which in part takes place in my family’s Chinese American restaurant, I had to cook to hear the sound of the wok. I’m a big fan of doing something in order to write, whether that’s pouring oil into a hot wok or savoring your favorite snack.
—Jane Wong, author of Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City (Tin House, 2023)  

Photo credit: Helene Christensen