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It is 1969 and China is in the throes of the Cultural Revolution. The Tao family is banished to the countryside, forced to leave comfortable lives in Nanjing to be reeducated in the true nature of the revolution by the peasants of Sanyu village. The parents face exile with stoicism and teach their son to embrace reeducation wholeheartedly. Is this simple pragmatism, an attempt to protect the boy and ensure his future? Or do the banished cadres really cling to their belief in their leaders and the ideals of the Revolution? These questions remain tantalizingly unanswered in this prize-winning first novel.
Contemporary Wisconsin Fiction
In her debut collection, Melinda Moustakis brings to life a rough-and-tumble family of Alaskan homesteaders through a series of linked stories. Born in Alaska herself to a family with a homesteading legacy, Moustakis examines the near-mythological accounts of the Alaskan wilderness that are her inheritance and probes the question of what it means to live up to larger-than-life expectations for toughness and survival.
The characters in Bear Down, Bear North are salt-tongued fishermen, fisherwomen, and hunters, scrappy storytellers who put themselves in the path of destruction—sometimes a harsh snowstorm, sometimes each other—and live to tell the tale. While backtrolling for kings on the Kenai River or filleting the catch of the Halibut Hellion with marvelous speed, these characters recount the gamble they took that didn’t pay off, or they expound on how not only does Uncle Too-Soon need a girlfriend, the whole state of Alaska needs a girlfriend. A story like “The Mannequin at Soldotna” takes snapshots: a doctor tends to an injured fisherman, a man covets another man’s green fishing lure, a girl is found in the river with a bullet in her head. Another story offers an easy moment with a difficult mother, when she reaches out to touch a breaching whale.
This is a book about taking a fishhook in the eye, about drinking cranberry lick and Jippers and smoking Big-Z cigars. This is a book about the one good joke, or the one night lit up with stars, that might get you through the winter.
Stories and Essays by Sato Haruo
Sato Haruo has been called one of the most representative writers of the Taisho era (1912-1926), a transitional period following Japan's monumental push toward modernization. Although he never identified himself as a modernist, Sato exhibited what some writers have identified as a characteristic of modernism: a complex net of contradictory impulses that embrace both the revolutionary and the conservative, revealing both an optimistic looking to the future and a pessimistic nostalgia for the past. Six stories of amazing diversity and two critical essays revealing the understated Japanese ideals of beauty make up this volume, all translated into English for the first time. Forming a sequel to the three stories published in Sato's The Sick Rose, these stories exhibit an extraordinary variety of themes and styles, ranging from poetic fairy tales to psychological portraits to who-done-it crime stories. The title story is a utopian dream of a better city, populated by ideal people, that vanishes in a mirage. Another tale portrays the loneliness of a man unsuccessful with women. A third embellishes a bare Basho haiku about the man next door. Here too are the dream ballad of a Chinese prince, the imaginary world of a mad Japanese artist in Paris, and the probing search for an opium-drugged murderer. Sato's critical essays that conclude this volume have their themes in an exploration of the sad beauty of impermanence, the nature of enlightenment, the awareness of self, the merging of the instant and the eternal, and the "self-indulgent, unrestrained beauty" of the Japanese language. This collection not only affords insights into the complexity of the work of a gifted writer, but also significantly broadens the perspective of the literary world of the Taisho period.
An Autobiographical Novel
Buoyant and entertaining, this melding of memoir and fiction recounts with humor and candid observation a gay man's romances in his seventies, offering insight into the joys (and a few of the sorrows) of loving, living, and aging with grace, style, and a fearless sense of fun. Bouncing between Montevideo, New York, and Paris, the narrator reveals his adventurous life, his many lovers, his varied careers from dancer to advertising, and the upbeat outlook that sustains him as he pursues the elusive Fenil, a handsome Uruguayan policeman. David Leddick's short sketches, interspersed with memories, attitudes, and opinions drawn from the past, combine in a vivid tale of a life lived with panache at an age when most people think the adventure has already ended.
The bed, dressed in hand sewn quilt or threadbare blanket, may in and of itself be memorable, but it is what happens in the bed ñ the sex and lovemaking, the dreams, the reading, the nightmares, the rest, giving birth and dying ñ which give ëbedí special meaning. Whether a bed is shared with a book, a child, a pet or a partner, whether lovers lie in ecstasy or indifference, whether ëbedí relates to intimacy or betrayal, it is memories and recollections of ëbedí, in whatever form, which have triggered the writing of these thirty stories by women from southern Africa. Well known writers Joanne Fedler, Sarah Lotz, Arja Salafranca, Rosemund Handler and Liesl Jobson will delight, but you will discover here new writers from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia, each with a unique voice as they cast light on the intimate lives of women living in this part of the world and the possibilities that are both available to and denied them. The BED BOOK of short stories ñ some quirky and tender, others traumatic or macabre ñ is the perfect companion to take to bed with you, to keep you reading long into the night.
After several years of silence and seclusion in Beetlecreek's black quarter, a carnival worker named Bill Trapp befriends Johnny Johnson, a Pittsburgh teenager living with relatives in Beetlecreek. Bill is white. Johnny is black. Both are searching for acceptance, something that will give meaning to their lives. Bill tries to find it through good will in the community. Johnny finds it in the Nightriders, a local gang. David Diggs, the boy's dispirited uncle, aspires to be an artist but has to settle for sign painting. David and Johnny's new friendship with Bill kindles hope that their lives will get better. David's marriage has failed; his wife's shallow faith serves as her outlet from racial and financial oppression. David's unhappy routine is broken by Edith Johnson's return to Beetlecreek, but this relationship will be no better than his loveless marriage. Bill's attempts to unify black and white children with a community picnic is a disaster. A rumor scapegoats him as a child molester, and Beetlecreek is titillated by the imagined crimes. This novel portraying race relations in a remote West Virginia town has been termed an existential classic. It would be hard, said The New Yorker, to give Mr. Demby too much praise for the skill with which he has maneuvered the relationships in this book. During the 1960s Arna Bontemps wrote, "Demby's troubled townsfolk of the West Virginia mining region foreshadow present dilemmas. The pressing and resisting social forces in this season of our discontent and the fatal paralysis of those of us unable or unwilling to act are clearly anticipated with the dependable second sight of a true artist." First published in 1950, Beetlecreek stands as a moving condemnation of provincialism and fundamentalism. Both a critique of racial hypocrisy and a new direction for the African-American novel, it occupies fresh territory that is neither the ghetto realism of Richard Wright nor the ironic modernism of Ralph Ellison. Even after fifty years, more or less, William Demby said in 1998, "It still seems to me that Beetlecreek is about the absence of symmetry in human affairs, the imperfectibility of justice the tragic inevitability of mankind's inhumanity to mankind." William Demby is the author of The Catacombs and Love Story: Black. He lives in Sag Harbor, N. Y. James C. Hall, a professor of African-American Studies and English at the University of Illinois, Chicago, is the author of the forthcoming book, Mercy, Mercy, Me: African-American Culture and the American Sixties, and editor of Langston Hughes: A Collection of Poems.
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.
The Work of Elmore Leonard
Widely known as the crime fiction writer whose work led to the movies Get Shorty and Out of Sight, Elmore Leonard has a special knack for creating cool characters, which for him means characters who are good at what they do. The dope dealers, bookies, grifters, financial advisers, talent agents, shady attorneys, hookers, models, and crooked cops of Leonard's world may be nefarious, but they are generally confident, skilled, and composed, and they cope without effort or thought. In Being Cool, Charles Rzepka draws on more than twelve hours of personal interviews with Leonard and applies what he learned to his close analysis of Leonard's long life and prodigious output: 45 published novels, 39 published and unpublished short stories, and numerous essays written over the course of six decades. Leonard's writing methods and style epitomize how he conceives "being cool." Rzepka delineates the stages and patterns that characterize the author's creative evolution. Like jazz greats, Leonard forged an individual style immediately recognizable for its voice and rhythm, including his characters' rat-a-tat recitations, curt backhands, and ragged trains of thought. Taking being cool as the highway through Leonard's life and works, Rzepka finds plenty of byways to explore along the way.