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Book of the Month May 2020 (or whenever!) - 《草鞋湾》 by 曹文轩

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roddy

Chapter 15... the tension... edge of my seat... that whole last scene... 10/10 would read again.

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murrayjames

Chapter 5

 

Really like the illustration on page 48.

 

轻盈 qīnɡyínɡ - relaxed
非但 fēidàn - not only
撵 niǎn - to catch up with
乌溜溜 wūliūliū - (of eyes) dark and sparkling
扳 bān - to pull
行当 hánɡdanɡ - profession
沾边 zhānbiān - to touch on
手头 shǒutóu - financial situation

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roddy

Wait till you see page 143! 151's pretty good too.

 

Bit of a rest in chapter 16, and then a breakthrough in the case!

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Lu

Chapter 19:

Spoiler

春节 and 阿珠 has still not been found. 沙丘克 gets drunk, forgets to give 沙小丘 his red envelope, so 马大伯 gives him money instead, pretending it's from his father.

A few days later, the Shas continue their stake-out. They find a house with a large scholartree, this one with a magpie nest in it, with a magpie family. When 沙小丘 climbs up the fence to retrieve his painting that was blown away by the wind, he sees a little girl. It‘s 阿珠! 沙丘克 comes to look. They see a woman come out who clearly loves the little girl as a daughter. Something is shocking 沙丘克. (I suspect the woman is his former wife, 丘丘's mother.)

 

Some words:

悲恸欲绝    bēitòng-yùjué    inconsolable grief, grief-stricken
硝烟    xiāoyān    gunpowder smoke
抵御    dǐyù    resist, withstand
孵    fū    to hatch, to brood, to incubate
栅栏    zhàlan    fence
雏鸟    chúniǎo    nestling, fledgling

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roddy
8 minutes ago, Lu said:

悲恸欲绝    bēitòng-yùjué    inconsolable grief, grief-stricken
硝烟    xiāoyān    gunpowder smoke

Not sure I can cope with the anticipation!

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Lu
2 minutes ago, roddy said:
10 minutes ago, Lu said:

硝烟    xiāoyān    gunpowder smoke

Not sure I can cope with the anticipation!

I mean I don't want to spoil your excitement but it's New Year...

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Balthazar

My copy is set to be delivered (by FedEx - which makes the JD's shipping fee more understandable) in two days. Just wanted to say thanks to all the people contributing to this thread, the word selections in particular will be useful as I start reading :clap

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murrayjames

Yeah, can we do this again in June/July with a different book? It’s fun.

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roddy

Stick a topic up and get it started, or bump the discussion topic we had for May and I'll edit the title. I was thinking about doing that, but I'm all in favour of other people doing it instead.

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somethingfunny

Got a bit distracted over the weekend.  Just finished chapter 10 with the paper planes.  Need to catch up with Roddy before he explodes...

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roddy

I should actually maybe slow down until a few of us can go through the last chapters in sync...

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Lu

I have only two more chapters to go, I think I'll just go on and finish the book today or tomorrow.

 

@murrayjames I might join again, if we pick a book already in my pile. I've read (almost) three Chinese books in the past three months, I don't think I've ever read so much Chinese so consistently and it's good.

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murrayjames

Chapter 6 😓

 

勃朗宁 Bólǎngníng - Browning, American pistol company
光顾 ɡuānɡɡù - to patronize (visit) a place
一往无前 yīwǎng-wúqián - advance indomitably
神机妙算 shénjī-miàosuàn - brilliant intelligence
料事如神 liàoshì-rúshén - to have incredible foresight
未卜先知 wèibǔ-xiānzhī - to have foresight
天方夜谭 tiānfāng-yètán - Arabian Nights; a fanciful story
危机四伏 wēijī-sìfú - be crisis-ridden
沉甸甸 chéndiàndiàn - heavy
口径 kǒujìnɡ - calibre (of firearms)
弹匣 dànxiá - magazine (of firearms)
按捺 ànnà - to restrain
交代 jiāodài - to confess

 

 

24 minutes ago, Lu said:

I might join again, if we pick a book already in my pile. I've read (almost) three Chinese books in the past three months, I don't think I've ever read so much Chinese so consistently and it's good.

 

I know that feeling! How big is your book pile?

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Lu
28 minutes ago, murrayjames said:

I know that feeling! How big is your book pile?

I just counted, some 35 books. Huh, that's not nearly as much as I thought. It's conceivable I'll actually finish all that at some point.

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PerpetualChange

Well, my order was just cancelled by amazon. Not sure I should expect to see a copy at this point now. 

 

3 hours ago, Lu said:

 

@murrayjames I might join again, if we pick a book already in my pile. I've read (almost) three Chinese books in the past three months, I don't think I've ever read so much Chinese so consistently and it's good.

Would be interested, if we could choose something a bit more widely available (like on Kindle shop) or other online sources that don't require a PRC credit card.   

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somethingfunny

I got mine from 京东 with my UK card, and I believe Roddy also got his copy the same way.  It turned up within a week - I was very surprised at how quickly it arrived.

 

Maybe you'll have to give us a list of all your books Lu...

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Tomsima

im also following this thread with interest - once im done with Waste Tide I'm gonna read this book. Anybody managed to get hold of an electronic copy yet, or is it only available in physical form at the moment?

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roddy

It's Y18 on Kindle from Amazon.cn if you have an account and it doesn't block you for being overseas. Alternatively, if you're still in the UK I can post my copy down when I'm done with it - fun though it is, I'm unlikely to re-read it in the near future. 

2 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

I believe Roddy also got his copy the same way.  It turned up within a week

Yep, although mine took the best part of two weeks. 

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Lu

I finished it and wow, for a children's book this just gets heavier and heavier. I gained a lot of respect for Cao Wenxuan as a writer. Two really good characters that are put into a really good conflict.

 

Chapter 20:

Spoiler

I was right: 阿珠's adoptive mother is no other but 沙丘克's former wife, 沙小丘's mother! 沙丘克 is very conflicted and locks himself up in his room; 沙小丘 doesn't understand what's going on. Eventually, 沙丘克 tells him who the lady they saw is. 沙小丘 isn't particularly happy or sad about this, I guess he is used to life without a mother.

 

Chapter 21:

Spoiler

Short flashback on how 于蔓莉 has fared after leaving 草鞋湾路108. She went to an old school friend to stay at her place. Old school friend introduced her to another former classmate, 李明秋, who is now a rich businessman but has always carried a torch for 于蔓莉. They marry, but can't have children. Eventually, they decide to adopt. 李明秋 asks his housekeeper to procure a child and tells 于蔓莉 it's a child of his cousin who has too little money and too many children.

 

Chapter 22, last chapter:

Spoiler

沙丘克 is very, very conflicted about what he has found out and what he should do now. Eventually, he decides to tell the Shengs that he can't work on the case anymore and give them his last clue of 'number 138', so they can ask the police for further help or hire another private detective. But when the Shas arrive at the Shengs' house, it turns out the Shengs no longer live there. Father has neglected his company until it had to close, had to sell the house and walks the land like a vagabond looking for his daughter. Mother has gone quietly mad and comes to the old house every day to wait for 阿珠.

沙丘克 is now even more conflicted. He stays out all night, keeping 丘丘 with him. In the morning, he sees the light and decides to go to the police. Alone, because this is not work for a small boy.

 

Some words:

踮 diǎn (Taiwan pronunciation diàn)        to stand on tiptoe
惊涛骇浪    jīngtāo hàilàng    stormy sea (usually figuratively), perilous situation
安然无恙    ānrán wú yàng        safe and sound, escape unscathed
肃穆    sùmù    solemn and quiet, respectful
汹涌    xiōngyǒng    turbulent, tempestuous
歉疚    qiànjiù        having a guilty conscience

 

Two sentences that I noticed:

p 191 沙小丘 climbs the stairs, 一边故意将屁股往后埋. Does anyone understand what 埋 means here?
p 192 沙丘克站到了椅子上,又从椅子上站到了桌子上: this useage of 站 is new to me, not meaning ‘to stand on’ but ‘to step on’, the movement from one standing place to another.

 

So to sum it up...

Spoiler

- Chekov's gun is not shot, which is good and right because 沙丘克 explicitily told 丘丘 that it was not to be shot.

- The magpies were 于蔓莉/a whole, safe and loving family.

- The little girl is fine, but everything else is a mess and will never be well again.

 

And to ride my hobby horse: the girls and women in this book are not rounded characters. Not counting minor characters like 胡妈 and 阿珠的妈妈, little 阿珠 herself exists only to be saved by a man (be it 沙丘克&沙小丘, the police, or even her father), and 于蔓莉 exists only as motivation/character development tool for 沙丘克 and as symbol of Wifely and Motherly Love. On the other hand, there are really only two rounded characters in this story altogether, so I guess one shouldn't judge this individual book too harshly.

 

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