- Series: Vintage International
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Vintage Intl ed. edition (October 19, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307473945
- ISBN-13: 978-0307473943
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Good Fall (Vintage International) Paperback – October 19, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
From National Book Award–winner Jin (Waiting) comes a new collection that focuses on Flushing, one of New York City's largest Chinese immigrant communities. With startling clarity, Jin explores the challenges, loneliness and uplift associated with discovering one's place in America. Many different generational perspectives are laid out, from the young male sweatshop-worker narrator of The House Behind a Weeping Cherry, who lives in the same rooming-house as three prostitutes, to the grandfather of Children as Enemies, who disapproves of his grandchildren's desires to Americanize their names. Anxiety and distrust plague many of Jin's characters, and while the desire for love and companionship is strong, economic concerns tend to outweigh all others. In Temporary Love, Jin explores the inevitable complications of becoming a wartime couple or men and women who, unable to bring their spouses to America, cohabit... to comfort each other and also to reduce living expenses. With piercing insight, Jin paints a vast, fascinating portrait of a neighborhood and a people in flux. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* In The Bridegroom (2000), his last collection of short stories, Ha Jin, a National Book Award winner, captures the paradoxes of life under China’s Communist regime. In his new stories, sharply etched works remarkable for the contrast between their directness of expression and complexity of feelings, he creates a mirror-image set of tales about a Chinese immigrant community in Flushing, New York. Ha Jin’s ear and eye for Chinese American life are acute, as is his sense of how one life can encompass a full spectrum of irony, desperation, and magic. The advent of e-mail enables a sister in China to blackmail her sister in America. A struggling composer develops a remarkable rapport with his absent lover’s parakeet. Marriages come under duress, one due to the almost surreal insensitivity of a visiting mother, the other to the husband’s suspicions about his wife and the strange truth they reveal. A classic story about grandparents from the old country appalled by their Americanized grandchildren is balanced by the startling title story, in which a young kung fu master and monk achieves an unforeseen form of enlightenment. The quest for freedom yields surprising and resonant complications in Ha Jin’s sorrowful, funny, and bittersweet stories. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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One. "The Bane of the Internet," a slight story about a woman's sister caught up in consumerism and enslaving herself to debt. Two stars.
Two. "A Composer and His Parakeets," a strong story about a man, a composer, hopelessly in love with an aspiring actress who is consumed by her career. He bonds more closely with his girlfriend's parakeet than he does with the woman of his dreams after his girlfriend charges him with baby-sitting the bird while she advances her acting profile, taking an overseas acting job. Five stars.
Three. "The Beauty," a strong, often funny and sad story about the self-destructiveness of jealousy and the trickery of images. Five stars.
Four. "Choice," a tormented love story about a tutor who falls in love with his student's mother. 5 stars.
Five. "Children as Enemies." A slight story, more of an exposition and monologue from a grandfather's point of view as he expresses his bitterness over the Americanization of his grandchildren. 3 stars.
Six. "In the Crossfire." A tormented marriage resulting from an imperious mother-in-law who imposes her Chinese traditions on her Americanized children. 5 stars.
Seven. "Shame." A young man befriends his former college professor who defects from China only to find that the professor is not as grand as the student once thought. Like "The Beauty," this story focuses on illusions and chimeras. Four stars.
Eight. "An English Professor." A slight, disappointing tale about the anxieties of getting tenure. Two stars.
Nine. "A Pension Plan." A caretaker has little money and must marry one of her senile patients just to survive. Like "A Good Fall," the story focuses on how poverty causes us to make desperate choices. Four stars.
Ten. "Temporary Love." A tormented love story about two Chinese immigrants committing adultery while being roommates while their spouses are still in China. Very strong. Five stars.
Eleven. "The House Behind a Weeping Cherry." A poor laborer falls in love with one of his roommates, a prostitute, and finds that he and she must face a serious dilemma. Five stars.
Twelve. "A Good Fall." A monk and kung fu trainer is being exploited almost to death by his boss and finds he must be born again in America to rise from the ashes. Five stars.
Unlike other immigrant readings - you won't find them trashing America or wishing to go back home due to the hardship. These immigrants knuckle down and survive - they grind it out in the chase of the American dream - yet can't quite let go of their life back home.
Author has a smooth writing style. I found myself remarkably engaged in the conversational style prose and its captivating simplicity. Jin has an innate ability to capture the details of the living conditions of the characters in each of the stories along with a rich imagery of the neighborhoods. If I had any criticism of the collection of stories, is that their conclusions are often too abrupt and fall off a cliff while others are too contrived - in both cases I was left wanting for a more finessed, nuanced or insightful ending.
I particularly enjoyed the following passages:
"Certainly I wouldn't lend her the money, because that might amount to hitting a dog with a meatball--nothing would come back."
"At our ages--my wife is sixty-three and I'm sixty-seven--and at this time it's hard to adjust to life here. In America it feels as if the older you are, the more inferior you grow."
"We haven't practiced division and multiplication this year, so I'm not familiar with them anymore." He offered that as an excuse. There was no way I could make him understand that once you learned something, you were supposed to master it and make it part of yourself. That's why we say knowledge is wealth. You can get richer and richer by accumulating it within."
"He still felt for this woman. Somehow he couldn't drive from his mind her image behind the food stand, her face steaming with sweat and her eyes downcast in front of customers while her knotted hands were packing snacks into Styrofoam boxes."
He remembered that when he was taking the entrance exam fourteen years back, his parents had stood in the rain under a shared umbrella, waiting for him with a lunch tin, sodas, and tangerines wrapped in a handkerchief. They each had half a shoulder soaked through. Oh, never could he forget their anxious faces. A surge of gratitude drove him to the brink of tears. If only he could speak freely to them again."
"Rusheng, you worry too much," Molin jumped in, combing his dyed yellow hair with his fingers. "Look at me--I've never had a full-time job, but I'm still surviving, breathing like everyone else. You should learn how to take it easy and enjoy life."
"Without the past, how can we make sense of now?" "I've come to believe that one has to get rid of the past to survive. Dump your past and don't even think about it, as if it never existed." "How can that be possible? Where did you get that stupid idea?" "That is the way I want to live, the only way to live."
"You can always change. This is America, where it's never too late to turn over a new page. That's why my parents came here."