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A Good Fall (Vintage International) Paperback – October 19, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
There are two things that stand out in this work. First is just the pure craft of it. These are exquisitely crafted stories. Jin is an English professor, after all, but the quality of this writing transcends that of the quality to be expected of any old English professor. It is that of a craftsman who has harnessed a great talent to the extent that the work seems effortless. (I'm sure it's not, but that just confirms my point.) His sentences are crisp and business-like, but not at all dull. In fact they almost crackle off the page. It's this blend of traits that makes this, or any other writing, so good.
Second, Jin writes movingly of the experience of the Chinese immigrant in America. The difficulties and hardships these people endure throughout the collection give us an almost instantaneous sympathy for the characters, even ones who aren't all that nice. `Children as Enemies' is about an old couple who are terrorized by their Americanized grandchildren. In `Temporary Love' we see the fall-out of being a `war-time' couple', or men and women who cohabitate in the States pretending to be married while waiting for their real spouses to come from China. In `A Good Fall', a monk is pushed to extreme measures when his `master' kicks him out of his temple, penniless, and without having paid him a penny for his work. Each story, whether they center on this theme or not, uses a different component of it in some way.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had to read this book for a class, and had never heard of the author before. He has an interesting take on the immigrant experience in America. Read morePublished 13 months ago by PA Smith
highly recommend this book of short stories written by a Chinese immigrant reflex some of the struggles hardships and humorPublished 14 months ago by peter duffy
Fantastic author. I prefer his longer form writing to this collection of short stories but still a great buy.Published on July 22, 2014 by David O Byrne