River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze
In the heart of China's Sichuan province lies the small city of Fuling. Surrounded by the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley, Fuling has long been a place of continuity, far from the bustling political centers of Beijing and Shanghai. But now Fuling is heading down a new path, and gradually, along with scores of other towns in this vast and ever-evolving country, i...more
anyway, i used to write a monthly literature review box or our volunteer newsletter, and one month i ranted about this genre. below are my thoughts:
Dissecting the Peace Corps Memoir
One of my least favorite genres of nonfiction is hands-down the “peace corps memoir.” I attribute it to both the f...more
The story of Peter Hessler’s two year stint (1996-1998?) as a Peace Corps volunteer in Fuling (pop. 200,000) in the Sichuanese hinterlands of China , teaching English at a state-sponsored school to the next generation of Chinese teachers of the English language, reads a bit like a China-based “To Sir with Love.”
It may lack some of the dr...more
For those who say that Peter Hessler is a conceited jerk ... mmm, I don't buy that. He makes observations about how rude and petty many of the Chinese people are, and he also fre...more
more than anything what i appreciated about this book is that it reads as fundamentally honest. sometimes hessler is his better self; at others he's irritated and judgmental as he adjusts to the country. he doesn't sugarcoat his perceptions or cast his behavior as particularly heroic. over time, he revisits opinions.
reading a mid-90s narr...more
I met two of Peter Hessler's Peace Corps comrades in 1996 or 1997 in Xishuangbanna. I remember them telling me about their experiences and frustrations worki...more
I also enjoyed the descriptions of the personal friendships he made with some of th...more
This was a great book,entertaining and educational. The author did his best to understand his students,the people of the relatively small Chinese city where he taught, and the political climate.
It was interesting how uncomfortable he and his friend, Adam, were to be the center of attention every time they ventured onto the streets.
I guess he really found out what it is like to be instantly recognizable as an outsider.
I think the Chinese were more sympathetic than I thought they would be to an Am...more
Reviewed by Graham Mulligan
I left a copy of this book in the apartment in Xiamen for teachers to read. The book is about the author’s 2-year stay in Fuling, Sichuan Province, in 1996-98, as part of a Peace Corps project to teach English and American literature to prospective teachers at the local Normal School. Hessler’s book is set in a city that is fated to be drowned by the rising waters of the Yangtze River, 3 Gorges dam project. I...more
In 1996, 26-year-old Peter Hessler arrived in Fuling, a town on China's Yangtze River, to begin a two-year Peace Corps stint as a teacher at the local college. Along with fellow teacher Adam Meier, the two are the first foreigners to be in this part of the Sichuan province for 50 years. Expecting a calm couple of years, Hessler at first does not realize the social, cultural, and personal implications of being thrust into a such radically different society. In River Town: Two Y...more
Bad: Hessler is an arrogant & condescending jerk who thinks he is being sensitive & understanding, but really isn׳t. I give him a discount because he was young & stupid (despite his Oxford education) when he wrote this. Nonetheless I find the book insufferable when he writes about himself which is way too much...more
It was, as Orwell would say, a case in which words and meaning had parted company. All that mattered was that students used the correct termininology and the correct political framework as they viewed the world around them.
For the first time I came to understand why literataure so often slides away toward politics. I had struggled with this before; at Princeton I had majored in English, and after graduation I had spent two years studying English la...more
Having lived in this region myself for a year, I surprised at how much of the book I could relate to, and consequently passed this onto relatives back home, to give them an idea of what life had been like for me. Whilst being informative with...more
Teaching in China is a totally new world....more
"The peasants were agressive salespeopl...more
Any travelogue success is tied in with its author's eye for detail and love for the subject matter. Hessler succeeds on both counts. His descriptions of people and places bring them to life without being lavish. He is matter-of-fact with regards to differences in the culture and the...more
I enjoyed this book because it transported me to another place that I didn't know much about. I've had a lot of friends in recent years teach in Asia and I think this book has illustrated a bit of what it's like. Hessler often notes the small subtleties of the everyday that only a mindful person would no...more
The author makes it clear in the introduction that this is not supposed to be a book about China, only about...more
Peter is there with another American, Adam and their assignment is to teach English literature to the students at the teaching college in Fuling....more