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Product Details
Redbat Books
Publish Date
6.69 X 9.61 X 0.47 inches | 0.8 pounds
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About the Author
Born in Boston and educated in the United States, Alex Kuo lived his early childhood in the French Concession of occupied Shanghai for most of World War II. Since 1963, he has taught and directed programs and departments at several American universities, including Roger Williams, University of Colorado and Washington State, and has been appointed writer-in-residence at Knox College, Washington State and Mercy Corps. He taught American literature in Beijing in its political spring of 1989, and has returned to it almost every year since, lecturing at Peking, Tsinghua, Beijing Foreign Studies, Beijing Forestry, Beiihang, Fudan, Jilin and Hong Kong Baptist Universities. He has received a Rockefeller Bellagio residency, three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Fulbright Scholar appointment, a Lingnan Professorship, Knox College Distinguished Alumni Award, and the American Book Award for his short fiction collection, Lipstick and Other Stories.
Reminiscent of stream-of-conscience writing, shanghai.shanghai.shanghai is intensely rewarding reading. Alex Kuo's shanghai.shanghai.shanghai starts out straight forwardly enough. Ge is an arts writer for an English-language newspaper and a struggling author on the side with a successful restaurateur girlfriend. But the story immediately metamorphoses into something unusual when the text begins fluctuating between various years and various events in recent Chinese-and sometimes American-history. Reminiscent of stream-of-conscience writing, it can be difficult to follow, but also intensely rewarding. To assist the reader, a typeface key is provided in the back of the book indicating who exactly the narrator of the text is at any given moment. For example, Ge's interior monologue is orange (Kingthings Trypewriter 2), his published writings are in green (Lucinda Grande), and additional proffered information-usually historical in context-is presented in sidebars of purple (Arial Narrow.) The author even inserts himself into the story via "author intrusions" in blue (Century Gothic). While the current year appears to be 2014, Ge is also writing in-and the story is perhaps occurring in-1939, 1989, and 2008. Those years align with some tumultuous recent events in China: the Japanese occupation, the student demonstration in Tiananmen Square, and the Beijing Olympics. Memorable characters, both real and fictional-such as "the blind, self-taught barefoot lawyer" who became internationally known several years ago and a pickpocket from South America nicknamed Bogota Man-are intertwined in time and even occupy the same space occasionally. A variety of seemingly random topics-the subject of war, the Peking Man, the 2007 world bridge championship-all collide and are part of the unfolding story swirling around Ge. Definitions for several Chinese words are provided: for example, "he was a despotic ruler-a baojun zhuanzhi zhuyi-running a fascist secret service." One-liners pop up and tickle the funny bone, such as this bon mot about seeing a movie in the theater: "I didn't like the movie; but then I saw it under adverse conditions-in the dark." Kuo, a retired professor of English at Washington State University, is the author of nine previous works. He has also held several teaching fellowships in China. -ROBIN FARRELL EDMUNDS, Foreword Reviews (Winter 2016)