“Head Study”is a philosophical memoir about the impulse towards the creative life, and the self-experimentation and spiritual evolution accompanying the actualization of one such life. The book chronicles the journey of a first-generation Asian-American woman from a spectacularly unsuccessful, entrepreneurial family in Texas, to the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, into the famed corridors of McLean Psychiatric Hospital and finally to New York City where the protagonist, now a divorcée, builds an artistic career and a life of independence.
With a unique frame structure, the memoir is divided into ten chapters, each beginning with a step in the painting of a head study— a portrait from life— and analogizes to a significant action the protagonist took in trying to realize her life goals. For answers, she is ever risk-unaverse and tirelessly experimental, looking first to the consolations of the quiet life of the mind; then to her Korean roots; to the study of law and philosophy; to marriage to a good man and the social protection offered by a bourgeois life; and also the life-saving relief held out by psychiatry after a serious diagnosis. This book is one woman’s self-directed problem-solving mission to bring into focus who she truly is among the hazy brush-work and lines of attempt and to paint her own head study.
“Head Study” is in last stages of revision. An excerpt can be found at Joyland Magazine.