Because Sherlock Holmes without Watson just ain’t Sherlock Holmes. Here are eight of my favorite side characters from six of my favorite books: Continue reading
Propaganda is only a paper tiger; paper books are the ones with teeth and oh! how they bite! Sijie’s novel shows the underbelly of China’s re-education program, its failure a fait acompli from the beginning.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress · Dai Sijie
Ina Rilke translation · Anchor Books, 2001 · 184 pages, paperback
The violin, its varnished wood smooth, reflects the embers, and it fails to be a toy of the Western bourgeoisie when the sonata cut by its bow is given a new name: “Mozart is Thinking of Chairman Mao.” An enemy music made ally by a lie.
The village headman contemplates. Mozart is thinking of Chairman Mao. The violin may stay.
The Great Leap Forward was, of course, a Great Leap Backward and, in the same vein, China’s re-education program was a mandate for ignorance.
It swells and swells (feeds and feeds). It’s bloated now, inflamed, the boils growing ever larger until Derry, Maine, ruptures in spewed sewage and fallen power lines and 55-mph winds that kill with the things their currents carry. Strokes the clock tower misses at 5 a.m., at 6, at 7 instead show up mortally in the brain of the old cop who knew the kids who knew Its secret back in 1958.
It is one town’s evils given monstrous reign and, like Georgie Denbrough’s newspaper boat that floats down Jackson street on a tide of gray floodwater, Stephen King’s novel takes adulthood and folds it up – creasing at the corners, tucking in the flaps – into a kid’s plaything. Let the good times roll!
Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker
Dai Sijie, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Jenny Erpenbeck, The End of Days
Émile Zola, Thérèse Raquin
Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue