Making Progress

As usual: SPOILER ALERT!

This novel is incredibly dense with incident, and also incredibly circumlocutious: it shows you something, then the thread breaks off, it’s suddenly ten years later. After a bit (a chapter or two, or three) you’re back to where you left off before the narrative jumped forward ten years. There are so many characters introduced and then disappearing, self has to keep re-reading to keep them straight: Peter, Kay, Jim, Ellen, Michael, Roland, Angel, Charles, Yi Gong, Leon, Deming/Daniel, Haifeng, Mrs. Haifeng, Didi, Cindy, Rocky, Vivian. It’s not that long a novel (300 or so pages) but, damn, it is complicated. And the worst part, for self at least, is that the mother in this story abandons her son not once, but twice — and the reason for the second abandonment is not explained. Self is on p. 219 and it’s a very, very slow and excruciating build to that central mystery (which takes place in Chapter One)

Questions:

  • Why, if Leon is so hot (and he really is, which is a welcome detail), did Polly abandon him? (It’s been a while since self read a novel with a hot Chinese man — damn, why does Leon end up chucked over like warmed-over cereal? Polly sure is a complicated woman!)
  • What happened to Polly after she said she was going to Florida but decided not to go to Florida? Did she meet another man? Self thought at first that she was murdered, but it turns out she just ended up back in China.
  • What happened to Polly’s best friend, Didi? Where’d she disappear to? Were she and Polly just “two ships that pass in the night”?Why was Leon clenching the phone so hard when Polly called him (In Chapter One or Chapter Two?)
  • What is going to happen to Deming/Daniel? Since everything sucks, is he going to DIE?

Stay tuned.


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