Jessica's Reviews > Soul Mountain

Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian
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's review
Jan 09, 2008

really liked it

Update: What an amazing book. I truly have never read anything like it, and I found some of the observations and insights to be thrilling. Oddly, I found myself enraptured by the descriptions of the Chinese landscapes more than anything else. There is much to be awed by--fables, stories-within-stories, heartbreaking recollections of the Cultural Revolution--but it was the lengthy passages about China's mountains, forests and (increasingly polluted) rivers that kept me reading more than anything else. This is strange for me; usually I glaze over during such scenes in most books. I would cite a passage or two to help sell this book, but I've already lent it out..! So, this book is challenging, and threw conventional approaches to narrative out the window, but it is also immensely satisfying in its scope and humanity.

So, this is some crazy stuff, this book. It's like a meta-biography, if there can be such a thing. Here's the basic idea behind it's wacky narration: So, the story is told by "I" (being the author), who is cognizant of the need for companionship while traveling across China (!), but he's alone, so he creates "you" for company. But "you" and "I" are part of the same person, the narrator, so he creates "he". But "he" is just the back of "you" or "I" walking away, hence "she" is given a voice. Whoa. I'm on page 30 of 500+, so this one is going to take a while!

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message 1: by Sonam (new)

Sonam Like you Jessica, it was the landscapes that first drew me into "Soul Mountain" to I used Google to map out where he was going and then looked for images of the places I found as I read the book. This enhanced my appreciation of his intricate descriptions of the places he sees and the people he meets, varied and interesting. I loved the Daoist references, reminding me that this is no ordinary journey. Your observations are wonderful and I wish you luck from page 30 on! I am coming to the end of the book, about fifty pages left of this great, I do not want it to end. A trip of self-discovery, an affirmation of the human condition and the nature of "the soul" which we are all seeking.

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