Home / Books / Book Reviews Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
New literary windows into China
Adjust font size:
"Taking a Rabbit, Meeting a Woman"
Yang Li

He thought of her constantly, trying to figure her out, as if there were countless rabbits in his heart, each of them hopping and jumping about, making him agitated, upset and restless. As the train headed northward and her city rushed closer and closer, he had suddenly calmed down and become more confident. What's all the fuss about, he thought to himself, it's just two internet friends getting together, there's nothing to get nervous about.

Zhang Kai's meeting with "White Black-eared Bunny" followed pretty much the same pattern of all young people who fall in love on the internet. They had happened to encounter each other in a busy, noisy chat room, her web name had pricked his curiosity and he had started chatting with her. They had exchanged thoughts and feelings, and then QQ addresses. Then their internet charges had risen faster than smoke from cooking stoves, as they chatted deep into the night and poured out their hearts.

...Zhang Kai gazed out of the window. The bus was passing a place teeming with workers in yellow vests, and bristling with many tall cranes. They were building a high wall or erecting billboards. Others were driving bulldozers, demolishing small shops and decrepit old houses. Metal signs hung crookedly from the broken walls – the city was undergoing rapid construction and expansion. New streets were opening up and extending into the distance where they linked up with other streets....

Traffic Jam
Ye Meng

Zhu Wen always says that sooner or later everyone becomes just another wheel. I've never doubted this and I even hold that it's a good thing – at the very least it would save some gas. This feeling has only grown stronger in me, especially with oil prices on the rise.

...So because of our delusions and our sad exploits, we put off advancing in the direction Zhu Wen has mapped out. That's why I just spent a hundred bucks on half a tank of gas, and even with half a tank of gas I'm not going anywhere.

It was then I started to feel like someone was laughing at me, and I had an idea that that someone might be Zhu Wen. Zhu Wen laughs whenever people get caught in traffic jams.

I told all this to Old Li after we'd been sitting in a traffic jam for an hour and a half. Old Li was in the car just behind... We started talking half an hour ago and now found ourselves walking ahead to try and find out the reason for the jam... When we had passed forty cars people were saying that a ten-ton truck had suddenly blown a tire. After sixty cars people were saying there had been a head-on collision. Most people went with the last reason, but they differed when it came to the details. Some said it was because the driver traveling northwards had been kissing his girlfriend when he was driving through the intersection; others said it was because the driver traveling westwards had started hallucinating; some said it was because the drivers were trying to avoid a white pig crossing the road. I preferred the third explanation – it seemed the most humane... As we walked back we found the rumors had changed and had become like miniature novels in their level of detail. When we finally got back home, Old Li sighed and said, "A straight line might be the shortest distance between two points, but it can be the longest too."

When I use the word "home," I actually mean here, our traffic-jam homes, our homes on wheels.

"Perfect Journeys"
Jiang Yun

'A Person Alone'

She sees it now. This child is a street gamin in need of help. Yet how come this gamin's clothes are neat and his face pretty clean too, showing no sign of vagabondage. Chen Yizhu stops smiling. She looks at the boy carefully for a while with her clear eyes. What a bright child! She screams inwardly. There is a strange sort of bright air about this child but it is hidden by something right now. The lights in the waiting hall silently turn off at that very instant. The filthy air falls onto the child at once like a dust storm in the light of dawn. This is definitely not the right place for him to stay, she tells herself. She extends her hand to the boy.

"Let's go," she says, "Come with me."

Without asking where to, the boy gives her his hand trustingly after just a brief hesitation. His hand feels cold and smooth like a small fish just taken from a river. That feeling is fresh to her, as she cannot remember when she last held a child's hand. She is a ... woman who hasn't given birth yet. She turns to look at the child and he smiles shyly at her suddenly. It is a moment of a bud blooming for the first time and the bright resonant quality in him radiates at once like a rooster crowing loudly at daybreak. She suddenly feels the throbbing of her heart. Fair and frail things never fail to make her heart ache and lament. She is so right, except she has no idea she has just taken the first steps into a tale of despair.

"Plum Raindrops"
Xu Zechen

I spent the fourteenth year of my life in a state of befuddlement. When I wasn't attending secondary school five li away I stayed at home all the time, or sat on the stone wharf. A great many boats passed by on the Grand Canal but I took no notice of them. I didn't know what I wanted to do. My mind was always in a muddle, and always sprouting a motley tangle of weeds and grasses. I was incapable of doing anything, and had no wish to do anything. I no longer rode a bike to and from school. I either trotted or walked, alone and absorbed in my thoughts. I liked the feeling of being soaked in perspiration as I got to school or came home. I felt as though I'd gained freedom, as though my whole person was no longer confined by my clothing but had come in closer touch with the whole world. So fully in touch that every part of my body became activated. I perspired as I ran or walked quickly, even on rainy days. As I remember it, the rainy season was exceptionally long that year, with downpours or drizzles drenching the land nearly half the time. I sweated even when I was wet from the rain. Mildew grew on everyone's clothing and bedding.

Flower Street saw few changes that year, except for the appearance of a woman. She arrived in Flower Street a day before the rainy season began, and died just before it ended. The story I want to tell has to do with her.

Older people used to say, "Don't stare at the canal, the water devil will come to snatch young children!" But I was no longer a young child. I'd grown up. Or, that's what everybody said.

(China.org.cn July 17, 2009)

     1   2   3  

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read Bookmark and Share
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Chinese literature highlighted at Leipzig book fair
- Pivotal moments in Chinese literature and publishing
- Chinese literature promotes the culture
- Kids study classical Chinese literature
- Ba Jin:Chinese literature giant
- Harvard to hold symposium on Chinese literature
- Pushing the Borders of Chinese Literature
- Chinese Literature Experts Criticize Pop Music