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Monthly Short Story Reading


Meng Lelan
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-Why does the story repeat itself for a few pages? On page 3 of the .doc attachment from earlier in the thread, everything after "陈先生还活着的时候,经常站在药店的柜台里面..." gets repeated on pages 5-7. Is this a literary device or a typo?

That's an error. I don't have the .doc attachment you do, but I first got the story from some website, and the text repeated that way. Then I checked the version published in 1998 in 名作欣赏. In my first copy (probably from the same source as yours), there was also an important missing section right before the first appearance of the line you quote. It does appear when the text is repeated, but it's easy to miss because of the repetition. So leading up to the line you quoted, the text should read:

“你和他的女人睡觉时很舒服吧”

我点点头说:“嗯。”

  他们都哈哈地笑着,他们经常这样问我,还问我和他们的妈妈是不是睡过觉。很多年以前,陈先生还活着的时候,陈先生还没有像翘鼻子许阿三那样死掉时,陈先生站在屋檐下指着我说:

  “你们这么说来说去,倒是便宜了他,是不是?这么一来他睡过的女人几卡车都装不下了。”

  我看着他们笑时,想起了陈先生的活,就对他们说:

  “我和你们的女人都睡过觉。”

  他们听到我这样说,一下子都不笑了,都睁着眼睛看我,看了一会儿,穿花衬衣的人走过来,举起手来,一巴掌打下来,打得我的耳朵嗡嗡直响。

  陈先生还活着的时候...

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Thanks, Meng Lelan. And thanks confirming with another copy, Rockford. I checked two online version and both had the same error. I was beginning to think it was done intentionally for some sort of Groundhog Day, deja vu effect.

I must say, I found the story quite sad. Given the title and the nature of the character, I expected 来发 to not know or maybe be unable to remember his own name. I didn't really expect his decision at the end.

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Where did you get 名作欣赏, is it in book form or what?

I work at a university with a subscription to a large database of digitized journals from the mainland, called China Academic Journals. It includes several literary journals, which is how I was able to get a copy of the story. The only downside is that the stories (at least the older ones) are image-only pdfs with a watermark over the middle, which makes it hard to read at certain points.

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Hmm. Lucky you. Any way I can see those journals online?

No way that I know, unless you have access to a large academic research library (a large public library system might have access, too). I guess it's possible that the company has a reasonable rate for individuals, though. The website (in English) is here.

Someone else might know a different way to access Chinese literary journals, too.

Also, I'm going to be out of town starting next Tuesday for three weeks, or so. I don't want you to think that I've dropped out of the short story reading. I'll just have to cram when I get back.

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Ok. The month of May is coming to a close now but it doesn't mean this thread is closing as well. Anyway who wants to straggle in and give this story a try is welcome to contribute at any time. In a few days I am opening up a new thread "Short Story Reading for June and July 2009."

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stoney wrote:

I still have some confusion about the last story we read by this author (我没有自己名字), especially the time line and precisely who some of the characters were. My Chinese is not so great, but I read it twice and get the main ideas. However I wonder if even a Chinese person reading his story might have some confusion. I mean, I think he wants to create some confusion, perhaps plunge us into the confused/ other reality of his characters ( 来发).

I can see why you were confused by the timeline in the previous story. The author was making use of flashbacks in time. You have to look at time through the mind of the mentally disabled protagonist. He sees time marked by statements that his father had made ( "Laifa, here's your school backpack, Laifa, you can't go to school you have to work", "Laifa, I have a tumor in my lung, I will die"). Those are events in the past as Laifa remembers it. Note he marks time by the deaths of important persons in his life, for example he notes events that happened while someone was still living or events that happened after someone's death.

I would recommend you try to read it one more time doing what I suggested.

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  • 6 months later...

I think this piece is interesting and you guys could make it your monthly reading if you want -> 《秦国人——记张艺谋》——陈凯歌

I think I had heard about it but had never read it before. And Chen Kaige is not the only one who has called Zhang a Qin Ren.

Edited by skylee
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  • 4 years later...

I'm resurrecting this thread because it's about one of our current stories-of-the-month (我没有我自己的名字), but I don't see a current thread for it. I read this story some time ago, and am now rereading it. I had trouble with this line:

“你们这么说来说去,倒是便宜了他,是不是?这么一来他睡过的女人几卡车都装不下了。”

Does the last part mean 'a few trucks wouldn't be enough to hold them all'?  What's 这么一来? 'He's slept with so many women . . .', or 'If he'd slept with so many women'?

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