A lyrical look at the ‘Japanese Plymouth Rock’

STRONG AS SILK: THE STORY OF THE GOLD HILL WAKAMATSU TEA AND SILK COLONY

STRONG AS SILK: THE STORY OF THE GOLD HILL WAKAMATSU TEA AND SILK COLONY
By Brigit Truex (San Pedro, Calif.: Lummox Press, 2012, 138 pp., $18, paperback)

“Strong as Silk” is a wonderful summer read and an interesting attempt to stir the imagination of what it must have been like as the historic Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony was trying to establish itself in 1869 at Gold Hill, Calif.

Brigit Truex skillfully allows the reader to hear voices from the past. Through use of fictionalized journal entries, poetry, newspaper accounts and unconfirmed stories, she gives voice to some of the known members of this ill-fated colony that lasted only a few years.

As a fictional work, Truex weaves stories, fictional journal entries, what little known “facts” there are, and poetry into a wonderful and whimsical work allowing one’s imagination to soar. The author’s poetic style, based loosely on traditional forms, still invokes, in places, austere, meditative, and minimalist spaces for quiet contemplation.

This book is a wonderful read adding another layer of “stories” to this little known and illusive attempt by a handful of Japanese pioneers to establish the first permanent tea and silk colony near present-day Placerville, Calif.

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