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A Novel

Philip Gambone

Publication Year: 2003

Escaping his ghosts, AIDS widower David Masiello accepts a one-year position at a Western medical clinic in Beijing. Lonely but excited, he sets out to explore the city—both its bustling street life and its clandestine gay subculture.
    David chronicles his adventures in China as he wrestles with cultural dislocation, loneliness, and sexual and spiritual longing. After a series of both comic and poignant encounters with gay Chinese men, he meets Bosheng, a handsome young artist. Though the attraction is strong, a difficult courtship ensues, during which Bosheng returns to his ancestral village to marry the girl his parents have chosen for him. Eventually, and quite unexpectedly, David and Bosheng reconnect and share an idyllic spring together. As the year ends, David must decide whether to say goodbye or face the uncertainties of a long-distance relationship.
    Gambone’s novel is peopled with a host of wonderfully memorable characters: Owen, David’s forthright best friend back home; Auntie Chen, the clinic’s office mom, who wants to fix David up with a girlfriend; Stewart, David’s Beijing roommate, a graduate student doing research on Peking opera; Jiantao and Guoyang, two lovers who lecture David on the fleeting quality of American romance; and Tyson, the Australian doctor with a Chinese girlfriend, who hopes to teach David that love doesn’t need any explanations or justifications.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vii

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pp. viii

I am grateful to the following people for their careful reading and sound advice: Harlyn Aizley, Christopher Bram, Kathleen Kushman, Vicky Frankel, Jim Mezzanotte,George Packer, Pamela Painter, Maxine Rodburg, Adam Schwartz, Christopher Tilghman, Jessica Treadway, and Kate Wheeler. Thanks to School Year...

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pp. 1-74

There is a building in my city—the Old Hancock Tower it’s called, though in 1947, the year it went up, people probably still said “skyscraper”—one of the first skyscrapers to be built in Boston during those years of soaring confidence that followed the Second World War. It’s not a...

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pp. 75-160

I spent my first weeks in Beijing concentrating on my job . . . or rather trying to concentrate. But even inside that air-conditioned, antiseptic cocoon of the building where I worked, China would not let me go. It was everywhere, distracting me, seducing me, undoing my attention. In every detail of the...

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pp. 161-230

Winter came early that year. By the beginning of December, the weather was so cold and dry that my lips were constantly chapped and my hands in need of lotion three or four times a day. I stopped riding my bike to work and started taking public transportation. Often I’d stay late at my desk just to avoid the packed busses full of sneezing, sniffling commuters....

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pp. 231-288

During the first week of April, the talk around the office was all about the peach blossoms, how they would be late that year. Auntie Chen started it, telling us that the trees needed more time to wake up from the long, hard winter....

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The Breaking Cup of Spring

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pp. 289-312

In Hong Kong, the rain was coming down in unforgiving torrents. Stalwart to the end, the departing British honor guard remained unflinching, standing at attention, as still, it struck me, as the terra cotta tomb soldiers outside Xi’an. Even their dress uniforms were holding up under the heavy...

E-ISBN-13: 9780299184933
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299184902

Publication Year: 2003