Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather

Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather

by Gao Xingjian

Novelist, playwright, essayist, and short-story writer Gao Xingjian is that rare breed of artist able to express himself with equal grace in almost any form of literature.

The collection Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather offers this author's own selection and arrangement of his shorter fiction.Written between 1983 and 1990, these beautifully translated stories take as their themes the fragility of love and life, and the haunting power of memory.

Everywhere in this collection are powerful psychological portraits of characters whose unarticulated hopes and fears betray the never-ending presence of the past in their present lives.Gao Xingjian has shown a mastery of the epic form in his novels Soul Mountain and One Man's Bible.

In Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather, he brings the same passion and precision to the short story.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Short Stories
  • Rating: 3.24
  • Pages: 127
  • Publish Date: February 3rd 2004 by Harper
  • Isbn10: 0060575557
  • Isbn13: 9780060575557

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Il tentativo lho fatto, stimolato anche dal fatto che nel 2000 Xíngjiàn ha vinto il Nobel per la Letteratura, ci ho provato.

So I thought I might first try some short stories by him to get a sense of what I might expect whenever I do take the plunge with 'Soul Mountain'. This English language version of 'Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather' contains just six stories (the original collection contains seventeen). There's a very interesting translator's note at the back of this collection that quotes Gao Xingjian as saying the following: Gao's fiction does not set out to tell a story. If you want to evoke feelings and emotions purely from language and writing, then to me that is poetry. And I absolutely believe that human emotion can be expressed through storytelling and fiction writing in general too...but for it to be considered a story, I need a plot. What immediately follows are my initial reactions to each of the stories BEFORE I read the translator's note: The Temple Upon reaching the end of the story I exclaimed 'what the actual heck was that?' I didn't like how the main character kept talking to the reader. Brought tears to my eyes Four and a half stars The Accident An accident occurs and its impact ripples through the passing strangers until it becomes almost mythical...almost like the old game of Chinese whispers where the original message gets ever more distorted as the story is related by more and more people. However, towards the end of the story the narrator started conversing with the reader, as in the first short, which I don't like but by that stage my emotions had truly been stirred. Three stars Buying a fishing rod for my grandfather The title story. Exactly what the author said I shouldn't expect as a reader from his stories is what I most longed for. Feel what it is they were feeling, what it is they want the reader to feel and to somehow translate that to a whole other language.... When I was reading these stories the language felt so natural.

I normally like that sort of writing but most of these stories didn't work for me.

This is a surprisingly enjoyable collection of simple life stories yet the lack of purpose to each left me feeling a little flat with a distinct unsatisfied feeling and wanting to know more.

Rasa penasaran setelah membaca cerpen Gao Xingjian dalam kumcer Dijual Keajaiban yang rasanya kok gitu aja? Banyak pembaca baru macam kita-kita ini akhirnya bingung saat hendak mencicipi rasa dalam karya si penulis peraih Nobel yang memilih eksil ke Prancis ini. Akhirnya, setelah menamatkan membaca seluruh cerpen di buku ini (dengan dua cerpen yang sedemikian sulit diikuti di bagian akhir), pembaca akan mengetahui jawaban tentang mengapa buku ini begini. Yang bikin terkejut dari cerpen-cerpen di buku ini adalah cara penulis bernarasi. Apa yang dilakukan Gao ini mungkin boleh-boleh saja, tetapi apakah tekniknya ini akan bisa diterima oleh pembaca, ceritanya lain lagi. Yang jelas, setelah membaca pemaparan di bab terakhir ini, saya ingin membaca ulang cerpen-cerpen di buku ini, terutama dua cerpen paling akhir yang bikin senewen itu.

And I do know thats part of the point, to bring to the worlds attention a writer whos not as well-known as he or she might be. Gao himself selected the six stories of this English-language version of Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather. I came to this with no preconceptionsI didnt know if these were going to be contemporary stories or have a period settingbut I was pleased to find them all set in present day China (or at least China as it was in the eighties) although there is some looking back to, as the narrator of the first story, The Temple, puts it, those catastrophic years in this country, our families suffered through many misfortunes, and to some extent we still resented our generations fate. Theyre looking for sights to see but the only thing locally is a building known as the big temple although in reality its not very big but then everythings relative. In the Park is a good story to follow The Temple and arguably the best in the book. Again we have a couple but this time its a couple who didnt get together and whove met years later but struggle to connect and their conversationthe story is written almost completely in dialogue with no speech tagskeeps going down cul-de-sacs: Lets talk about something else. While theyre sitting there trying to find common ground they notice a girl waiting, presumably for her beau, and this provides them with a topic they can discuss but it also leads them into dangerous waters and the reunion doesnt end up going as well as I expect either had hoped it will. It was a story that couldve happened in any park across the globe. In Cramp a man has swum out further than was wise and, gets cramp and, as the sun begins to set is in real danger of drowning:White-crested waves on the ink green sea. The Accident documents what happens whenand, more importantly, aftera bus hits a cyclist:A bicycle fitted with an extra wheel for a baby-buggy with a red-and-blue checkered cloth shade is crossing diagonally from the other side of the road, and a man is riding it. Each generation is getting worse, the man was wasting his time bringing up the son! In the title story, a man sees a fiberglass fishing rod in a store window and is reminded of the times he went fishing and hunting with his grandfather. At first this felt like it was going to be a straightforward story: man sees rod, gets nostalgic, buys the rod and presents it to his grandfather. And that is what appears to be happening only when he gets to his hometown everythings changed:I find an older man and ask him where the lake used to be. If I know where the lake was, it will be easy to find the stone bridge, and when I find the stone bridge, it will be easy to find Nanhu Road, and when I find Nanhu Road, Ill be able to feel the way to my old home. In her review in The Guardian Julia Lovell has this to say about this story: Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather, is intriguingly framed as a self-delusory nostalgia trip, but collapses into Gao's ponderous version of western modernism-by-numbers: surreal juxtapositions of time and place, stream of consciousness, a fragmented narrative voice locked into tediously self-analytical conversation with itself. Actually once you get to the end of the story you do realise whats been happening here and it all starts to make more sense but it will throw you. Worse is the final piece, In an Instant, which traces the lives of three people on a typical day.