Eric's Reviews > Peking Story: The Last Days of Old China

Peking Story by David Kidd
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Aug 06, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: history, travels, decadence
Read in August, 2009

This would make a fantastic movie. And Kidd has done much of the work for a potential screenwriter with his very scenic, cinematic, suggestive prose. His narration makes me think of all the critical phrases that cluster around Howard Hawks--spareness, economy of shots, artistry of severe formalism, all that. I was hooked from the first scene, in which Kidd meets his future wife at the opera, because it is such a calm, serenely paced arrangement of striking images. But even if Kidd wasn't such an accomplished stylist this book would have been worth the reprinting: it's one of those ringside views of revolution (Kidd was an American student who married, in 1948, the daughter of a old aristocratic family of "unimaginable grandeur") that register, with a comic anecdotal attention, changes in social texture and bureaucratic practice. Particularly memorable is the chapter in which the Communists outlaw prostituion, and one of Kidd's sisters-in-law, a middle-aged spinster/virginal recluse who, because she has a sinecure at the Ministry of Justice, is selected to become the housemother of a recently shuttered brothel, with responsibility for the political reeducation of the prostitutes. It's just one of Kidd's many comic and melancholy stories.
6 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Peking Story.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

DoctorM It's a great story--- and Kidd later became something of a mentor for Alex Kerr, whose "Lost Japan" is vry much worth finding.

Eric Wow, Lost Japan looks very interesting. Thanks for the tip.

back to top