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Better pianist than author
on October 23, 2012
The basic story here is indeed moving and powerful -- talented pianist growing up in communist China finds her education derailed by the cultural revolution. After 5 years in various labor camps, she is finally able to leave China and emigrate to the U.S., where she completes her music education, moves to France and becomes a musician of great renown.
The problem is, that much in the narrative is jumpy or poorly explained. I'm not saying that she's lying but, like another reviewer I would LOVE to know how she smuggled a piano into a labor camp (a camp clearly stated to be 'a prison') .. and then journeyed to dozens of near-by wire factories (how convenient!) to replace the broken strings. And how the piano stayed even remotely in tune.
She writes about her mother being diagnosed with cancer and given a year to live ... but her mother is still alive several decades later.
She writes about how she struggled for admission to university in China, and then never mentions anything about her time there except that she was able to meet some Chinese intellectuals. It isnt' even clear that she attended the university.
She writes about how she moved to the U.S. to attend music school in California, then changes her mind and attends in Boston, but makes no mention of how she filled the 9 months in between, and how she supported herself after quitting her first job, or what she had to do to get her scholarship.
She writes about her 'marriage of convenience' to a man who was presumably, but never stated in so-many-words as being in a gay relationship -- and then her husband is never mentioned again. (Did this 'marriage' cause her NO difficulties when she applied for a French visa and then French citizenship?)
She writes about being diagnosed with cancer and refusing chemo -- but a few pages later she is recovered.
An editor to help smooth out these awkward sections would have been very welcome.