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March 26, 1995|CHARLES SOLOMON

HAWAIIAN COWBOYS by John Yau (Black Sparrow Press: $13.50; 169 pp., paperback original). In these dark, intense short stories, Yau explores the alienated world of urban Asian-Americans. Largely ignorant of Asian traditions, and excluded from mainstream American culture, they take refuge in alcohol and self-destructive behavior. After describing himself as "a gimp coolie," the English-Chinese narrator of "A Litle Momento From the Boys" explains, "There is no middle ground, no safe place for us in the world, no belief that will take us in, sooth us. We live on the poison we secrete. We spend our nights characterizing ourselves in derogatory terms."

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