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138 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 original work. There is no discussion ofmethods of collection, problems ofinterpretation or translation, use ofvernacular and dialect, or die politics ofpublication . There are some endnotes, again geared to general readers, but there is no general index, much less an index oftale types. Although Gernant suggests that these stories, popular among ordinary people, reflect values that are often unaffected by or are at odds with the dominant Confucian norms and definitions—an arguable point—there is no discussion ofhow they might have been shaped by or reflect or fail to reflect the dominant discourses ofthe past sixty years. The tales are augmented by drawings borrowed from the original Chinese text. The present English text reads smoothly and has retained a genuine Chinese flavor even in this accomplished translation. There are inevitably a few rough spots, as in "She had a melon face and almond eyes; she was very pretty and charming" (p. 116). Whether in Chinese or English, a "melon face" sounds gross—funny— and is not a sign ofbeauty or charm; in all likelihood the Chinese text reads guazi, which should be rendered as "melon seed," which is considered the shape ofa pretty face, at least in China. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading these tales, and I believe the general reader will find them most engaging. C. Fred Blake University ofHawai'i at Mânoa C. Fred Blake is an associateprofessor in anthropology; his area ofresearch is Chinese popular culture. Howard Goldblatt, editor. Chairman Mao Would Not Be Amused: Fiction from Today's China. New York: Grove Press, 1995. Hardcover $21.00, isbn 0-8021-1573-X. Chairman Mao Would not be Amused is a book ofblood, tears, sadness, and disappointment . Written chiefly by a new generation of writers, most of the stories here, set in both the present and the past, express their authors' skepticism and contempt for what has happened during the bewildering period of economic reform that began in 1978, and they ask where it will lead China and what has gone @,!"7 hl.^iVerÚty wrongwith this greatkingdom ofthe Yellow Emperor. This is a period when images ofthe West erode the daily lives of1.2 billion Chinese; Western skyscrapers mushroom in the cities, MTV and rock and roll are icons ofthe youth, and capitalism has become a hot catchphrase. Economically, ofHawai'i Press Reviews 139 China is taking a "Big Leap Forward." Its reported gross domestic product rose from $298 billion in 1980 to $508 billion in 1994. Foreign investors have poured $81.4 billion into China, up from 2.9 billion in 1980. However, there are dirty downsides to this glorious upsurge. It is a period that writer J. Lii has described as "a great phallic monster of truly monumental ugliness."1 Divorce has risen from 12 percent in 1990 to 24 percent in 1994. Prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases proliferate—the number ofreported cases ofthese diseases, according to the World Health Organization, has increased from two in 1970 to two hundred thousand in 1993. Industrial pollutants are pouring into the air and waterways in the billions oftons (twenty-five billion in 1991, according to J. Lii). Material plenty seems only to reinforce the ugliness ofthe mind and the soul. It is this ugliness that concerns the writers in this collection. The world they describe is populated with malcontents, incompetents, perverts, killers, rapists, bewildered intellectuals, deformed cynics, and wife beaters, whose lives shock the reader. A common focal point for the depiction of this ugliness is the family. More than halfthe stories here deal with families and relationships. For thousands of years, the family has been a symbol of unity and solidarity, but modernization has transformed this traditional notion. Families are crumbling. In Shi Tiesheng's "First Person," a young wife wanders through a cemetery on her wedding anniversary murmuring "go with the flow" in response to her husband's adultery; in Hong Ying's "The Field," two brothers risk their lives to save Junni from a whorehouse, only to see her dream ofmarriage and love completely shattered; Su Tong offers a portrayal ofperverted sex and betrayal in "The Brother Shu" while Li Rui depicts...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 138-140
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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