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Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Six stories, published in Chinese between 1983 and 1991, offer a sample of Nobel-winner Gao's sharp, poetic early work. In "The Temple," the unnamed narrator and his new bride alter their honeymoon plans to pause in a provincial town. Though the two are blissfully happy, they find the town's inhabitants and its Temple of Perfect Benevolence vaguely disquieting. A muted reference to the Cultural Revolution ("It all felt so different from the time when we were graduates sent to work in the countryside") may explain the unease. Gao (Soul Mountain; One Man's Bible) explores the simultaneous enormity and anonymity of death in "The Accident," when a man on a bicycle with an attached baby buggy rides, either carelessly or deliberately, into a bus. The man is killed, but his young son survives; a crowd forms, passing around rumors, while the cops take away the bus driver and the blood on the road congeals. The title story employs collages of memory and haunting daydreams to mourn the destruction of the narrator's grandfather's village. A "sparkling lake" has been paved over, and the river where the narrator and his grandfather used to fish is dry: "The sand murmurs that it wants to swallow everything. It has swallowed the riverbank and now wants to swallow the city along with your childhood memories and mine." Gao intends his stories to reveal "the actualization of language and not the imitation of reality" storytelling, in other words, is not his goal. These spare, evocative pieces bear that out; often the lovely prose (nicely translated by Lee) is reward enough.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gao Xingjian, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize for literature, is a sensitive, microscopically observant writer. Though few in number, the stories in this collection are richly diverse. One is a bittersweet reflection of a newlywed on his honeymoon; another a Pinteresque dialogue in a park; a third a traffic accident recounted in real-time with all its voyeuristic detail and authentic philosophical questioning, and still another, a strong memory-driven, first-person tale that follows the mental trail of a man who passes a fishing equipment shop and begins to remember his grandfather. For variety of content, stylistic experimentation, graceful language, and poignant insight, Xingjian is a writer who does it all beautifully. Janet St. John
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 229 KB
  • Print Length: 142 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060575565
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Publication Date: October 13, 2009
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,513 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on June 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Reading the six short stories in Gao Xing Jian's BUYING A FISHING ROD FOR MY GRANDFATHER is like wandering into a small gallery containing six Impressionist paintings. Each story paints a quiet verbal picture of loss and gain, of change, of solitary existence and the consolations of love and family. Gao's works seem nearly plotless, vignettes which create scenes and atmosphere more than story lines. Then again, life consists of such brief moments and experiences; stories are the fictions we create to connect and give personal meaning to these separate moments.
Gao's technique varies from story to story. His opening work, "The Temple," describes the spontaneous actions of a honeymooning couple as they disembark from a train to explore a decaying hillside temple. The story, written in standard prose form, speaks achingly of history and loss, of life moving forward in spite of past tragedies. The second story, "In the Park," switches almost completely to dialog between two nameless acquaintances who meet by coincidence in a park and reclaim their childhood memories as another young woman sits crying on a nearby park bench.
The third story, "The Cramp," gives a harrowing account of a casual swimmer who nearly dies alone within sight of the shore, only to discover when he makes it ashore that no one has noticed. The next story, "The Accident," tells nearly the same story in a moment by moment account of a fatal traffic accident on a Beijing street. The police arrive and take care of the situation, street cleaners come to remove the broken bicycle and wipe the blood from the streets, and life continues on anonymously, as if the death never occurred.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Edward McLean on April 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A book for those who know China, and those who still have that pleasure to come. "The Accident" takes us onto a pulsing but anonymous Beijing street for one small moment of death and life. Gao puts us in the crowd of curious onlookers, and then magically into their minds and lives. "The Temple" takes us by the hand through rural small town China as a young married couple enjoy their one week of honeymoon. Gao writes sparingly but with a precise and human touch, much as China's landscape painters misted their scenes onto canvas. Serene and raucous, immense and private, like China itself Gao's writing gives great, simple pleasure. After these Chekhov-like short stories, you will immediately want his Nobel winning novel "Soul Mountain", if you haven't yet encountered that great work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By AgnesMack on September 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm not usually a fan of short stories and this collection of translated stories by the Nobel Prize winning author Gao Xingjian reminded me of why that is.

The thing is, I just don't get drawn into short story collections. As soon as I start to get interested, it ends and I'm left trying to get to know a whole new set of characters or to care about an entirely new set of circumstances.

Those issues in this book were only exacerbated, for one main reason.

These stories, by design, are not plot driven in the slightest. In fact, an afterword contains the following information :

"Gao warns readers that his fiction does not set out to tell a story. There is no plot, as found in most fiction, and anything of interest to be found in it is inherent in the language itself."

As a reader who is more interested in the way a story is told than the actual story, this isn't necessarily a problem.

But. It was translated! If the whole point of the work is the use of language, and I can't see that language in the way the author intended, what's the point? I simply don't understand why you'd translate a work that was completely about the writing and not the plot.

That said, a few of the stories were interesting. In the Park in particular struck me. It was the story of a couple spending a lazy day together. Nothing exciting happened, there was no passion, no twists. But it sort of gave you a glimpse into these people's lives in a way that felt very intimate and beautiful.

Overall though, I can't say that I'd recommend it, considering that I'm not really reading Xingjian's work, but that of his translator.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Vilches on June 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book contains six beautifully crafted short stories built on ordinary events. Crafted more to evoke emotions than tell a tale, these stories range in style from sparse dialogue to rich description of detail.

The dream-like imagery in the last two stories, "Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather" and "In an Instant", carries you along in a hypnotic stream. "The Temple" starts as a charming journey into the country with newlyweds and slowly turns melancholy. "In the Park" takes place almost entirely in dialogue that is surprisingly effective at conveying nervous regret. "The Cramp" skillfully turns danger into triumph into insignificance. "The Accident" is a masterful demonstration of how a tragic death is a mosaic of different events based on point-of-view.

The stories are different in style, but the same themes can be seen running through each: memory, change, loss, and family. These short stories are not going to be everyone's cup of tea - if you need a plot, this isn't for you. But if you appreciate beautiful use of language to paint a picture, you'll probably savor this small collection. The translation seems very unobtrusive - you never get jarring feelings of disconnect from the language.
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