Good, but way too long for what it is. The tale told here in almost 700 pages really needed only about 450 tops. Still, it will make you think about fGood, but way too long for what it is. The tale told here in almost 700 pages really needed only about 450 tops. Still, it will make you think about fragile ecosystems, and the effect one strata might have on another - i.e. how Mongolian wolves and their behavior might have led to the great Mongolian warriors....more
Well presented stories from a guy who went to central China to teach English in 1983-4. A bit scary in some ways, as I am soon of to do this same thinWell presented stories from a guy who went to central China to teach English in 1983-4. A bit scary in some ways, as I am soon of to do this same thing myself...but meanwhile it's been a quarter century of rapid changes for them. Some "issues" for westerners will be the same, some not so much. Hopefully many "discovered joys" for westerners will remain... A quick and easily digestible read. Also excellent "thanks for helping with the wedding" gift from a groom who studies martial arts to a corpulent friend who is soon going abroad to teach English i.e. might inspire local study of taichi, bagua or other "soft" wushu. I esp. liked the bits with the fisher family, and was pleased and surprised to learn on the last page Saltzman is married to filmmaker Jessica Yu, who made the great Darger doc 'In the Realms of the Unreal'. ...more
I'm mixed here. Zachary, did you try the ketamine? Did you bang a prostitute? If so, why not tell us about it? If not, why the pseudonym? The Party wiI'm mixed here. Zachary, did you try the ketamine? Did you bang a prostitute? If so, why not tell us about it? If not, why the pseudonym? The Party will be after you? Don't flatter yourself, rebel laowei. But he does admit to smoking hash with "the Uighur Hendrix" (who himself says he doesn't want to be called the Uighur Hendrix...). I lived in China for over two years and never saw any K (Bangkok - yes, Beijing - no) but he was clearly running in different circles. For example, the Wuhan punk stuff, which was interesting, and the last chapter, clubbing in BJ, which read like Candace Bushnell... It's also sort of questionable someone would have such connections overall in China, but the scene there is weird like that, and his Mandarin skills are definitely superior to mine. I'm also seriously doubting 10% of women there have done any of the 7 levels of ji work. But even just 1% of just over half of 1.3 billion people is still a whole lot of prostitutes...
The writer comes off like a rich kid who befriended publishers, or his friends became publishers, and encouraged him to get these tales into a book. But that doesn't mean he gets to call himself a "writer". Well, maybe more is coming - we'll see. I'd say don't attempt to wear the Gonzo Journalist hat without getting your hands dirty. But then, his female publishers, Heidi, and half his hipster audience wouldn't be OK with candid whore stories, would they? I would have liked to hear more about Kunming and the time managing the bar where he was supposedly based, but there is more here about Dali. More tales from Qingdao for that matter. But that's OK, I myself was ex-pat Shandongren. And no mention of Xian? So be it, it just seemed he wanted to touch on so many major cities.
Two things I did find serendipitously pleasing: the killing people game - a version of which I came across in a Chengdu hostel last Summer; and the BBC doc 'China from the inside', which I saw last year, and recommend, though it's more of a downer than parts of this book concerning grim realities in modern China.
Overall, how to "rate" this collection? If you've never been, I suppose it paints a good picture of some elements you might not expect. But don't go to China looking for ketamine, or expecting insider connections like he makes seem so casual here. Maybe if you've been studying Mandarin since you were 15, have a bankroll, and years to invest. If you have lived over there, you probably have experiences similar to this yourself, doubt others, and should try and talk your friends into publishing them. But this book goes into the eye easily enough and I'd like to see this "empathetic, exotic, rebel, badass" laowei write more. Just don't worry about impressing us with 4 star hotel deals you booked online, or let the pollution have you running for the KFC. And what's with name dropping all the cigarette brands? ...more
The main novelty of this volume is simply that the tales come from China, which had a flirtation with sci fi in the 70's and early 80's - all chroniclThe main novelty of this volume is simply that the tales come from China, which had a flirtation with sci fi in the 70's and early 80's - all chronicled nicely in the preface. The stories standing simply as sci fi, I wasn't deeply impressed, though the better ones I found to be "Death of the World's First Robot" which is essentially a fantasy story, and "The Mirror Image of Earth". These writers love dropping Asimov's 3 laws of robotics, which I suppose happened more during the American "golden age" as well. When you consider the themes being explored against the genre backdrop, we see the individual giving proper credit when working as a team, the role of a wife (or fantasy robot wife), and some examples of amusing anti-western propaganda, just as base as anti-eastern propaganda and sterotypes hat went on in our own history. ...more
Overall, a downer, juxtaposing a man caring for his father-law-to-be and professor after a stroke with the days leading up to the 1989 events in TiennOverall, a downer, juxtaposing a man caring for his father-law-to-be and professor after a stroke with the days leading up to the 1989 events in Tiennamen square. My favorite parts were the dada that came from the stroke afflicted professor - his mind especially jumbled as he slept and dreamed. A competent sad story, but not specially stellar lyricism. ...more
A really engaging memoir about an englishman's love affair with China and trials in doing million dollar business there during the early and mid-90's.A really engaging memoir about an englishman's love affair with China and trials in doing million dollar business there during the early and mid-90's. My four stars are real testament to Clissold's ability to make a possibly tedious tale relateable, because I am certainly not the type to enjoy the chronicles of business. There was also insight shared about the chinese character and hints as to why it might be as it is I found illuminating after some mysterious moments during my own brief visit there.
A must read for any chump (or chump company) who thinks they might like to go make a quick buck over in China ("All of that untapped market potential; how can we lose?!?")...
The afterword is also quite relevant, as it is time to issue a serious wake up call in the American consciousness in terms of attempting to understand and relate to this ever-emerging dominate world power....more