We plan to meet tonight at a nearby Thai restaurant, all the while under the amazed gaze of the woman behind the desk, and I leave, forgetting about Kelmscott and Chaucer and floating down the marble stairs, through the lobby and out into the October Chicago sun, running across the park scattering small dogs and squirrels, whooping and rejoicing.
Clare is wearing a wine-colored velvet dress and pearls. She looks like a Botticelli by way of John Graham: huge gray eyes, long nose, tiny delicate mouth like a geisha. She has long red hair that covers her shoulders and falls to the middle of her back. Clare is so pale she looks like a waxwork in the candlelight. I thrust the roses at her. "For you."
*cringing cringing CRINGE CRINGE*
My favorite part is "tiny delicate mouth like a geisha." SO CRINGE-LICIOUS(less)
I was going to try to read Snow Flower all the way through 'cause it's currently totally the most popular work of Chinese-American fiction in print, a...moreI was going to try to read Snow Flower all the way through 'cause it's currently totally the most popular work of Chinese-American fiction in print, and the subject matter is interesting even if the narrative is not well-executed. The repetitive foreshadowing of MISFORTUNE & BETRAYAL prolly keeps a lot of people reading even when their good sense tells them not to.
Today, I have decided to listen to the good sense.
Lily's voice, the dialogue, the characterization, and the writing overall is unskillful, though it has some nice moments. Like many of my fellow reviewers, I have a feeling that Snow Flower would've made for some solid nonfiction, but it is bad fiction.
Lisa See crams all of her research into the narration and conversations among the characters, which is unrealistic and doesn't allow us to be immersed in the story. Her English equivalents of Chinese words/phrases have an awkward, exotic quality, which disturbed me. Rather than writing in a way that brings people to truly connect with the characters, See creates horror, disgust, fascination, and pity in us readers, which should not be confused with the feeling of empathy or of being "moved." Basically, the society sounds primitive and backward, and all in spite of the author's intentions. So here we are with another contemporary novel that other-ifies Eastern cultures for a Western audience.
Initially I was interested because of Lisa See's unique background and her setting: 19th century rural China YEAH! I know a lot about 19th century America but almost none about my parents' homeland! Both my great, great grandmother and great grandmother had their feet bound, so in part I confess that I was hoping for a window into that world, and See certainly did a TON of research! I was most intrigued by the element of nǚshū 女书, but even that was not enough to sustain my interest in a book that made me this emo.
I think that a good book should have merits other than being a window into a world.
My last comment is about the liberties that See takes in this work of historical fiction. Por ejemps, while the tension of class that See sets up with Lily & Snow Flower is a creative premise, I doubt that it was realistic. Marrying & friendships between social classes probably did not happen like that, i.e. all through bound feet and matchmakers.
"Hey, matchmaker laday says your feet are beautiful enough for you to marry rich husband! In fact, she will even extend this offer to your cousin!" Too much transparent fudging in this novel, yo~
Lisa See keeps churning out books, so I'll be sure to check them out, probably one set in the 20th century this time, like SHANGHAI GIRLS or the new one, but oh man, I will so lower my expectations for them.
And I changed my mind: Sooooo not seeing this movie. The theatre will most likely be full of artsy liberal Asian cinema enthusiasts (and other kinds of Sinophiles) who are all like, "OMG, bound feet! Orchestra playing melancholic soundtrack on some Asian-sounding scale! Sex!" BU HAO!(less)
Notes: This book debuted in February, but being much too caught up in school, I totally missed it! Naturally, it had to be #1 on my reading initiative...moreNotes: This book debuted in February, but being much too caught up in school, I totally missed it! Naturally, it had to be #1 on my reading initiative, yo. I was at Stephen Lovely's reading of Irreplaceable two summers ago, back when it was a work-in-progress, and have been looking out for it ever since.