Monday, May 20, 2013
In The Mundane
I'm ashamed to confess that I gave up on this book about three stories in. Well, not in closing the pages and shoving it to the back of the shelves. More like...rushing through and wondering where this book is going with its stories. There's a certain theme running through which isn't what I'd usually pick out to read even for English fiction. I tend to avoid those genres.
The design of the cover and the chapter separators is good. Flowing, shadows, floral, of uncertainty, of not leaving traces of the characters' stamp on life. The gentle flow doesn't do anything to stimulate the-already-strained brain that takes double the time to go through a book in this language.
A compilation of 10 short stories about city living, the book isn't technically difficult to plough through. But I really couldn't make head or tail of it. Perhaps my understanding of Chinese is weak. Totally unfamiliar with the vernacular slang of certain phrases. The way the author goes into details describing the everyday isn't evocative. I found it just...really...boring. The meticulous treatment felt tedious. Sure, there's beauty in the mundane everyday living of all the characters in the stories. But I wasn't drawn into their worlds. Struggled to find meaning in its peaceability and nothingness.
So yeah, there. Gave up. The book in question is《塗雲記》, the latest novel by Taiwanese author 陳淑瑤. It's quite a departure from her previous picturesque novels of small towns. (For more information about the book and author in Chinese, read here, here and here.)