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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • January 31, 2006


    [10] Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch - Dai Sijie

    The novel is a modern fairy tale under the disguise of a political allegory, the elements of which still bears the shadows if the Cultural Revolution. Mr. Muo’s Travelling Couch represents a conscience – a poignant pang of conscience for social injustice. After years of studying Freud in Paris, a 40-year-old man returns to China to liberate his college sweetheart, who had taken pictures of people being tortured by police and syndicated them to foreign media, under the pretext of interpreting dreams. A corrupted judge mandated virginity of a girl in exchange for clemency from the Communist on her case. So the obsession of a greedy magistrate ensued the psychoanalyst’s journey to find a virgin. The quest took him to a rural panda habitat, brought him to close encounter with the marauding hill tribe, and costed him his own virginity!

    What strikes me the most about the novel is not Mr. Muo’s unswerving solicitude to rescue his love from the menacing cuffs. Nor are the depiction of life and the injustice to which people are subjected during Cultural Revolution more hairsplitting than what is already known. Almost every piece of late-20th century Chinese fiction lives in the shadow of this dark period that pervades the life of Chinese people. The heart of the novel is a man’s self-transformation without his knowing it. As a sense of futility hovers over every step of Muo’s scheme, his tight grip on his idealism imperceptibly loosened. A reflection on his return to China that has seemed to be rueful at the first thought opened up new perspective to his life. His once unshakable faith in psychoanalytic insight began to crumble as he smugly relished the prospect of a new love. Filled with snatches of somnambulistic musings and exuberant imagination, Mr. Muo’s Travelling Couch beholds the power of suggestion that enlarges one’s imagination. The surface of the writing is more than a reflection of the concealed depths.


    Blogger Greg said...

    Sounds like an interesting novel,a nd I will probably add it to my reading list. I haven't read much Chinese literature and need to start adding more to my mix of books.

    1/31/2006 7:40 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    You might want to read his debut, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Also to get you on a bearing of modern Chinese lit, try Ha Jin's Waiting.

    2/01/2006 7:53 AM  
    Anonymous Ella said...

    Oh, wow, I had no idea this was out in the US! I loved "Balzac" and will definately read this. I'm with Greg, I want to read MUCH more Eastern lit.

    2/01/2006 9:07 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress was made into a motion picture couple years ago. I wasn't a big hit but you can find the VCD.

    Modern Chinese lit lives in the shadow of the Cultural Revolution - so you will find a lot of bitterness, rage, and anger.

    A noteworthy piece is One Man Bible by Gao Xingjian, who also wrote Soul Mountain. These belong to a new genre of modern Chinese literature that evokes historical scar in a detached voice.

    2/01/2006 10:23 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Can you post the Chinese titles of these books for those who might prefer to find them in the original? Your blog is a great resource for advanced Chinese students who want to read something interesting but don't know what to choose!

    9/28/2006 6:45 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...


    Dai Sijie is an expatriate in France who published almost all his works in French. His dbut, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, is now made into motion picture. I don't think any of his works of fiction are yet to be translated into Chinese.

    9/28/2006 6:51 AM  

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