Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven
Bestselling author Susan Jane Gilman's new memoir is a hilarious and harrowing journey, a modern heart of darkness filled with Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes.
In 1986, fresh out of college, Gilman and her friend Claire yearned to do something dar...more
While I spent most of the story feeling a bit irritated towards these naive girls, it was def...more
The author travels to China in the 1980s after college with a friend who basically has a schizophrenic break while they are there. Travel at that time in China was unusual and difficult (it is not portrayed in a very positive light, to be honest, but I found it very interesting to compare to my own observations from traveling there in 2007). But the interpersonal and p...more
Here's the deal: Gilman and her college friend craft a plan at Denny's to travel the world. They first land in Hong Kong. Postcards are sent. Collect calls...more
Grand Central Publishing|February 8, 2010|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-446-69693-7
In 1986, Susan Jane Gilman and a classmate embarked on a bold trek around the globe starting in the People’s Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent backpackers for roughly ten minutes. Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche and Linda Goodman’s Love Signs, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves...more
Surely you understand, I have this thing, it´s called an obsession--but not any kind of obsession, it´s an obsession with books, especially the free kind. If unchecked I´d collect books like your g-ma´s pristine, unused, plastic covered,...more
I had added this book to my To Be Read list a while back because it claimed to be an account of two young women backpacking through China in 1986, shortly after the country became open to tourists. But because of the unfortunate title and the naked woman on the cover, it wasn't until I ran out of all my other reading material that I finally got around to picking it up.
I didn't really know what to expect from this book but my wary suspicions were quickly laid to rest after being introduced to Sus...more
To start: the writing is beautiful. Gilman not only gives an account of visiting the other side of the world, she shares the experience of being there in 1986, just after China opened its borders to independent travelers.
After graduation, Gilman and a friend pack malaria pills, water purifiers, picky appetites, and some naivety, and hop on a plane to Hong Kong. The goal? Travel around the world. Stop 1: China. Gilman describes a route that most pe...more
It started out interesting enough. Two naive girls, fresh out of Brown, decide to travel around the world for a year. They start in China and quickly realize they have no idea what they are doing. They do meet some interesting and incredibly generous people along the way, se...more
Gilman reflects on her backpacking trip to China in 1986 with a fellow recent Brown graduate with brutal honesty and self-awareness (developed, she readily admits, only in retrospect). I think she accurately portrays the mindset of two relatively coddled 22-year-old American college graduates in a strange foreign land. But at the same time, 20 y...more
Initially, I was mildly not interested when I heard the author's voice, and this I assume is just because I have grown accustomed to actors reading audio books. I would say that roughly ten minutes into the book, this became a non-issue.
I was taken in fairly quickly by the possibilities that this story gave me. Two young women embarking a year-long journey into the world. What could be more exciting than...more
The book is set in China in the mid-eighties, a couple of years before my own first, brief encounter with mainland China. Susan Gilman and her not-...more
Susie Jane Gilman does just that, and in 1986, when most borders were closed to the U.S. during the Cold War. Information was scarce and travel was truly an adve...more
Nancy Pearl Book Reviews for 6/20/2009
In her memoir, "The Sisters Antipodes," Jane Alison describes what happens to the children in the wake of a complicated family swap. It's about two couples who get divorced in order to exchange spouses. Our book critic Nancy Pearl says it's a gripping memoir marked by writing that is searing in its honesty and pain. Our book critic spoke with KUOW's Dave Beck.
Once there were two families: one Australian, one American. E...more
As a recent college graduate myself, I was excited to stumble upon a book that I thought might provide some humor and insight about this monumentally turbulent time. Unfortunately, Susan Gilman's memoir only seemed to by turns annoy and offend me. The characters narcissism was unbearable and the d...more
So not what I was expecting. I thought this was going to be a memoir about two girls, Susan Jane Gilman and her friend Claire Van Houten and their backpacking trip through China; something where I could read about their adventures and for some of it, reminisce, "Ahhh, it was like that when I went there..." And parts of it were like that. Despite the fact that she went in 1986 and I didn't travel there until twenty years later, Gilman's description of visiting the Great Wall, of seeing glimpses o...more
In 1986, Gilman and her college friend Claire embarked on an “around the world” b...more
I couldn't get past the first 1.5 chapters because the two main people came across as whiny, obnoxious, naive women who stupidly decided to travel to an area where they knew no one and could not speak the language.
I realize my view is probably colored by the fact that I couldn't read much further than the two of them arriving in China and the very end to find out what happened, but I just didn't care. I'm glad the author became a stronger person and did eventually travel around the worl...more
While the author does take pains to note that she was young and immature, it comes across more as a way to excuse the behavior she's writing about rather than a real understanding of who she was then. She goes to great pains to point out the differences between her and her travel companion (Companion is rich, sop...more
Background: Made, born, raised in New York City
Career: Author of three nonfiction books, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, Hypocrite
in a Pouffy White Dress, and Kiss My Tiara (see bookshelf). Have contributed to numerous
anthologies, worked as journalist, and written for New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Ms.,
Real Simple, Washington City Paper, Us magaz...more