- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Signal 8 Press (November 22, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9881516196
- ISBN-13: 978-9881516190
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,758,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Access Paperback – November 22, 2011
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Top customer reviews
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The author has broken her stories into five categories: tall tales; circular tales; fairy tales; old wives' tales and beastly tales. The separation is nice because if you find one category isn't to your liking, the stories change form in the next category.
Probably the hardest thing about reviewing collections is that there are some stories that really appeal to me - 'Access' in the fairy tales department - and others that are really not my cup of tea - 'Iron Light' in the tall tales department. In this collection, I found the balance about 60/40 in favour of the stories I liked.
All of the stories are very well written and remain true to the theme, which I appreciated. It was easier to move from story to story because of that thread. Many of the stories made me think and some just entertained. I didn't find that I seriously hated any of the stories although I felt a little let down by a few. I would say that is the way many collections hit me. I'm sure someone else could read Xu Xi's stories and enjoy some that I didn't while disliking some that I enjoyed.
One of the things I loved about this short story collection is that each story introduced me to new and varied characters in a variety of situations. There were no two stories the same. If I'm going to read a collection like this, I don't want to be re-reading the same basic story over and over. This is definitely another good purse book.
I will spot light two of the thirteen short stories in the collection so readers can get a feel for her work. Most of the stories are between ten and twenty pages long.
"Space" is a brilliant short story about a never married sixty seven year old woman with no children living by herself in Hong Kong. Her brother has recently died and her nephew and his wife want her to move to American to live with them. As the story opens, it was exciting and very interesting to learn the aunt has a close near intimate Internet relationship with a seventy year old American living in New York City who is a self taught Sinologist. Her nephew Francis and his wife are in Hong Kong for a visit. They are doing all they can to persuade Aunt Kar-Li to move to America. They tell her they have a big room for her and also mention a retirement community. Kar-Li suspects their motives may be impure as she thinks they want her to sell her apartment in Hong Kong to invest in the three restaurants they own. There is a great deal in this story. It deals in a very subtle fashion with the conflicts between older Chinese and their younger relatives in terms of adherence to Confucian values. The aunt knows that she is in part going to be used by her nephew and his wife once she moves but the family ties are just too powerful for anyone to really try to throw away.
"Lady Day" is a really amazing story about a post operative transsexual prostitute. The story line is very interesting and kept my attention level very high. This is a story about deception of the self and the other. About the power of sex to dominate and the reverse side of this when a person reduces them self to a commodity. All swords seem to be two sided in the world of Xi Xu. "Lady Day" is fairly explicit in its descriptions of what the clients want her to do. It is in a way a woman's fantasy story about how the life of prostitute works out when things goes very well. Of course the story ends before Lady Day's looks begin to fade and we know the dark side of this fantasy world will take over soon.
The people in these stores are often defined by their jobs. Almost everyone works hard and is very money driven. I was glad to see that many of the women in the stories are very high achievers both in commerce and education.