Monday, 31 October 2011

The Lost Daughter of Happiness - Geling Yan


The Lost Daughter of Happiness
 I find that I enjoy books that mingle a bit of fact with the fiction....and this is one such.  The author, Geling Yan, left her home country of China following the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1985 and settled in California.  The translator, Cathy Silber who translated the book into English, has done an excellent job, for I knew from early on this was a book that was told from another point of view by someone who speaks in another way altogether.  The book itself has no chapters, and this didn't put me off me one bit - though normally it would; although it does have gaps so that you can make a stop here and there!  It is told from two viewpoints - the narrator's voice, a Chinese American voice who is telling the "lost daughter" how she found her 200 years later whilst researching Chinese immigrants into America; and in the third person the story of Fusang, a girl stolen from her home village in China and transported for sale into prostitution.  If you thought that maybe this was an uncommon occurance, you'd be wrong.  Thousand of girls arrived in America this way, they were young and usually dead in their 20s.  Of course, hundreds of thousands of poor chinese men also flocked to America for a better life (it was they who did the donkey work on the great rail system that opened up the States then).  The white men in general hated them with a vengance; they worked for much lower pay, and because they spoke another language they could not be understood.  White men flocked to the dockside brothels on the Pacific coast however, for the novelty of sex with these strange looking prostitutes and their gentle ways (perhaps read inscrutable for gentle here), and the chinese referred to the whites who visited the chinatowns for women, opium, alchohol as "white devils".
Into this life comes Fusang, with a sweet smile, bound feet, and when awakened, a love of sex whoever pays for it.  But she is haunted for many years by a boy.  A white boy, Chris.  She first sees him when he is twelve, looking in through her window whilst she services a customer whilst holding the boy's gaze.  It is his awakening moment, and he is besotted.  What happens to him, and what happens to her - more separately than together, forms the basis of this haunting little novel.  And at the end, you find yourself asking:  Oriental/Caucasian - will we ever truly understand them and they us?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Shermouse Holmes reporting on findings

Today this newspaper received a phone call  from Shermouse Holmes, still searching in the West Dorset area for the body of a mouse stolen in July.   "I have found no sign of a body at all", said Sherlock.  "I have found nomouse who can tell me anything at all (or will not tell me anything at all).  This is a worry, because whilst I have heard of mice disappearing, I have never, in my entire career, heard of the disappearance of a body already deceased.  I shall continue to search during the remainder of October, but will return to my office on 30 October, as All Hallows Eve is not a night for wee beasties to be out and about, well, not that I am frightened, but I do need to get my caravan in storage, and my nest insulated for the winter.  I hear it will be a cold one".

Following that phone call, hearing rumours of a small family of mice within the garden of Pine Tree Cottage, your intrepid reporter went out into the field himself.  What he found will make interesting reading.
 Pictured left are Wally and Willy Woodmouse, the twins whose winter home is The Shed. It was difficult to get them to speak, but eventually, in chorus, they spoke.  "That big cat Fred, he did kill the mousie!  and then a Big One put it on a sheet of paper in the porch!  and then a big gust of wind blew it into the garden! And then a big big bird come and pick it up and fly away! And we was so frightened, we only goes out in a pair now!  No single huntin', no single sunbathin' or anything!  And last week another big bird did come and take down a wood pidgeon right in front of us!  Mr Sp'hawke, we heard whispers of his name.  By all that is holy, Gerbil and Harvestmouse, they is the things to fear, the enemy raptors!" 

At that, they scampered off in the direction of The Shed.  I will put this statement to Shermouse Holmes when he returns - perhaps he need never had gone if he had interviewed the Woodmouse twins first of all.

Tongin Cheeeeeek - Reporting for The Daily Fieldwhiskers
Copyright SusanMaclean

Monday, 17 October 2011

Shabby Chic cupboard

 That's a pint of milk there, just so that you can judge the size, and its about 7 inches deep.
Layout of interior, with bowl of lemon slices in situ to take away the smell of old fashioned sticking plasters...

I got this cupboard from my friend Judith - I'd coveted it for years.  It was used as her bathroom cabinet in the house she lived in then, and it was she who painted it the colour it is today, which I am keeping.  I loved it from the moment she had it, she had a crazed white ceramic knob, and I am going to put a knob that looks like a sea urchin on it (Judith kept the ceramic one "in case it comes in handy somewhere else!"). If you catch it in the right light, you can see the outline of a cross, and the inside of the cupboard always smells of old fashioned sticking plasters (you have to be over 40, I think, to recognise this smell!), so it was obviously a first aid cupboard at some time...who? where? what?  Was that its first use? Those little mysteries!  When we moved house Judith asked if we wanted it and of course we did!  It has been hanging in the spare bedroom for 9 years, holding all those tringum trangums that had not yet found a home, and because that room is being replastered it had to come off the wall - and now we have decided it can have a permanent home in the kitchen to take the place of a small group of shelves holding glass jars of dried foods, and the homemade jam and marmalade. So - at least twice recycled, and many years of use ahead.  Judith will smile when she visits next!