The past few weeks I have not read much in Chinese. This is because I recently received some excellent news, news about something that will keep me very busy in 2019, far busier than I expected. Going forward, I will need to set aside time specifically for reading Chinese, or it will be difficult to meet my million-character goal.
A few weeks ago I finished a short story by 20th-century Shanghai author 施蛰存. The story is 《在巴黎大戏院》. It is part of a collection of short stories available online. The story is about a man on a movie date with a girl. The man is a neurotic mess, overthinking every word his date says and every movement she makes. The man is also probably an adulterer—he’s married—and a weirdo/pervert. At one point, the man, nervous and sweating profusely, is handed a handcloth by his date. He wipes his sweaty face, then discreetly tastes (and even sucks on) his date’s handcloth. Eww. The narrative is told entirely from a first-person, in-his-brain running-commentary perspective. The language is simple, but I found the story difficult—even unpleasant—to read. The man is weird and obsessive and I did not enjoy being inside his head. That being said, I will read more short stories from 施蛰存. He is a famous author and surely not all of his stories are like this.
Today I finished reading 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》. It is the thesis of an undergraduate music student at 中国音乐学院 in Beijing. The topic of the thesis was jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt. I am something of a Stitt expert, having studied Stitt and his music for years, and having written a 552-page doctoral dissertation about him. (Link for the curious.) The student reached out to me to ask some questions about Stitt and jazz music analysis. I don’t want to name the student since he is not a public figure. But his thesis was pretty good, especially compared with other work in jazz studies in China I have read.
Link to 施蛰存’s《在巴黎大戏院》:
Characters read this year: 150,751
Characters left to read this year: 849,249
Percent of goal completed: 15.1%
List of things read:
《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters)
《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters)
《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters)
《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters)
《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters)
《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters)
《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters)
《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters)
《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters)
《IBM Cloud文档：Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters)
《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters)
《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters)
《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters)
《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters)