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Book of the Month June 2020 (or whenever!) - 《景恒街》 by 笛安

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PerpetualChange

My copy arrived yesterday. Fortunately I'm mostly likely going to finish my current book today or tomorrow, so I'll turn to this! Fingers crossed that it's not too tough for me. 

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PerpetualChange

Sorry if this post is redundant - I just want to throw my thoughts out there and see what others think. This book is a bit on the more challenging side for me so far so it'd also be nice if people could correct if I've falling of course. 

 

Started it this morning. I got up to only page 7, but I'll post some thoughts. 

First part, I'm assuming that the woman is Zhu Lingjing. But maybe not! Once sentence that I had to go back to was one that I really liked on the 2nd page: 

 

後來他感覺自己的身體里也開始盤旋著餘音繞樑I的顫動,是她傳染的。

 

I didn't get this first time around, but int he end I translated this roughly as "Afterwards he felt like his body started spiraling into the vibrations of the lingering sound, it was her spreading them (to him)."

I thought this was an interesting way to tell us "the sex was really good" haha.  

 
Not far into chapter 1, but it starts with her (my money is on "same her") getting in a cab in Beijing which is a city that means a lot to her. We found out that the  company she works for going bankrupt (?) and that she's worked a lot over the holidays (?).
 
There's an interesting detail at the top of page 7, where she mentions her tendency toward 遲頓, and mentions talking with a couple friends once who were laughing about how she was coldly pushed out or (something?) by another girl. Although she laughed along with them, she didn't know what they were talking about. I kinda got the feeling that this would be important later on. 
 
Next she's still looking around their neighborhood, it's dark and a lot of the shops are already closed. And... that's as far as I got! I wanted to read more, but my comprehension was already slipping and it was time to go back and take another look at some words and sentences. If there's time I may do a second session later :). 
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PerpetualChange

I will post a truncated version of my vocab list when I finish chapter 1. 

So far, quite a few word lookups for me, so I'll just leave it to the ones that I wound up really trying to memorize. 

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Lu

Her company is a startup, financed by MJ Capital. The company has run out of money, a new capital injection from MJ would allow them to continue on for another few months (during which time they might perhaps start to make actual money), but MJ is pulling the plug.

 

I don't remember if I actually looked up 遲頓 or just inferred the meaning from context, but (I think) it means a little slow reading situations. In secondary school, some girls were pushing her out, but she didn't even notice at the time. And now she feels like she is the only one who didn't see the closure of the company coming, because all her coworkers seem to be so matter-of-fact about it. So she is afraid to bring up her surprise.

 

I myself am a little slow reading this book. I read chapter 3 last week and then other stuff became more pressing and I haven't read since. I hope I'll get back to it.

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PerpetualChange
3 hours ago, Lu said:

I don't remember if I actually looked up 遲頓 or just inferred the meaning from context, but (I think) it means a little slow reading situations. In secondary school, some girls were pushing her out, but she didn't even notice at the time. And now she feels like she is the only one who didn't see the closure of the company coming, because all her coworkers seem to be so matter-of-fact about it. So she is afraid to bring up her surprise.

Looks like my fuzzy understanding had it inverted for me a little bit 😅 I'll take another scan at those paragraphs before moving on. 

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PerpetualChange

One page 19, I'll probably finish the first chapter tomorrow:

 

I got to the scene where Lingjing meets Iron Man outside the rest room, offers her a job, and then they go onto to describe how, 30 minutes prior, Lingjing's boss was kneeling on the floor begging for money from Iron Man.

 

Then we get a little more exposition from Iron Man's point of view about how he was impressed with Lingjing earlier before this scene, though she didn't seem to recognize him. I was a little bit fuzzy on why Iron Man is so impressed with her, other than he's obviously interested in her. Then we meet the other partner, Meng Duozhu, who is in Hong Kong(?) right now, and when as the employees are looking at the news on their phones they discuss the suit that he's wearing. Iron Man thinks back to another photo from four years ago when Duozhu stood with the creator of 蔓越莓. Business has gone smoother since then, but Iron Man feels like they've all been relying on their past brilliance. Iron Man goes to get another cup of coffee, and curses the administration because the machine is broken again. But then the third (and most Jr.) partner comes over and empties out the empty packets, and the machine starts working again. At this time, Lingjing is just heading in from the parking garage, late to work again. 

 

I won't lie, this book is very difficulty for me, especially after Yu Hua, Ba Jin, and San Mao. There seems to be something like - I don't know - a quickness finesse to the writing not found in those other books that makes it much harder to infer meaning and much easier for me to totally lose my grip on the plot. I spent a good 90 minutes today reading and re-reading just a few pages. I do intend to stick with it, but if it doesn't get easier for me, I may have to hang this one up for a bit and go to something easier. 

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roddy
On 6/3/2020 at 9:44 AM, roddy said:

Edit: A few stats from CTA: 146k total characters.....

Edit Edit: I see elsewhere that the book has 170k characters - which makes me think the electronic version might not be complete. Be careful. 

The plot thickens - the info page of the book says it has 200k characters! It just keeps getting longer. But as far as I can tell the electronic version has all the chapters in it. 

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imron

200k might include punctuation.  How many Unicode code points does CTA say it has?

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roddy

175,880.

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Lu
2 hours ago, roddy said:

the info page of the book says it has 200k characters

The character count on the info page of a book is always inflated. Not sure if they count the punctuation or if something else is going on, but there is only a very vague relationship between the actual number of 字 and the number stated there.

 

Here's the numbers for a few books I've been involved with:

Actual 字数 Stated in book
111088 130000
4901 88000
4177 88000
106046 198000
270840 250000
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PerpetualChange

There was a LOT of vocab for me, so I may not be the best person to do this, but I haven't seen anyone else do it yet so I thought I would share some vocab from the Prologue + Chapter 1:

 

粗重 cu1 zhong4 - loud and jarring

繞樑 rao4 liang2 - reverberate 

運籌    yun4chou2 - draw up plans

遲鈍    chi2dun4 slow (in thought or action); obtuse

一貫    yi1guan4  adj consistent; adv - always, all along

脫胎換骨 - tuo1tai1 hun4gu3 - to be reborn to remould oneself 

敷衍 -  fu1yan3 - to act in a perfunctory manner

注資 - zhu4zi1 - to invest capital; n. capital investment 

微醺 - wei1xun1 - tipsy

憑空 -  ping2kong1 - out of the void

蔓越莓 -  man4yue4mei2 - cranberry

港交所 - Gang3jiao1suo3 - Hong Kong Stock Exchange 

膠囊 - jiao1nang2 - plastic packet

等級森嚴 - deng3ji2sen1yan2 - to be rigidly stratified; form a strict hierarchy 

力排眾議 -- li4pai2 zhong4yi4 - prevail over all dissenting views 

 

Sorry for traditional only but I do not have a simplified keyboard installed on this machine at the moment .

 

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murrayjames

I started Chapter 3 today. Liking the book so far. I agree with Lu that the writing style has a fast-paced sitcom flavor.

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murrayjames

Finished Chapter 3. Some thoughts:

 

Spoiler

 

The favorite subplot so far is the broken coffee machine. Will it ever get fixed?

 

A memorable section is 钢铁侠 illustrating how to make money off people’s hopes and anxieties. 钢铁侠’s former company came up with an idea to monetize students’ 高考 scores. Collaborating with China Mobile in Beijing, the company sent test scores via SMS for a small fee. The company made a fortune. Multiple family members would pay to check the test scores of a single student. Other students would pay for their test scores several times in elation, doubt, or disbelief.

 

 

On 6/8/2020 at 4:18 PM, Geiko said:

灵境 seems to have fallen in love with [关景恒], as she wonders 说不定有一天, 他会喜欢我.

 

My reading: 朱灵境 is growing in confidence. She was rescued out of a failing company. Within a very short time at MJ, 灵境 was given a role with greater responsibilities and regular direct contact with company executives, who joke that she is the most attractive girl in the office. Men that 灵境 encounters through work—like 阿南 and her boss 钢铁侠—become romantically interested in her. 灵境 wonders, perhaps one day 关景恒 will become interested in me too.

 

 

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murrayjames

From the beginning of Chapter 4, it appears...

 

Spoiler

...that 灵境 is smitten with 关景恒 after all. She spends hours watching him on video, and peppers 小潘 with questions about him.

 

Later 灵境 and 景恒 run into each other at a carwash, and share a long car ride together. 灵境 forgets all about 钢铁侠 until the very end of the chapter. Looks like a love triangle is forming.

 

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murrayjames

Finished Chapter 5. My synopsis:

 

Spoiler

 

We learn about 关景恒’s background.

 

灵境 accidentally informs 小潘 that the man she slept with at their apartment is her boss. 钢铁侠 knows that 小潘 is 灵境’s roommate and asks 关景恒 to drastically reduce his ownership in 粉叠.

 

At long last, the coffee machine has been replaced. The new machine is a pour over coffee maker. (Good choice.) Unfortunately, 钢铁侠’s assistant 文娟 dropped it on the floor. I hope the coffee maker is OK.

 

关景恒 and 灵境 go on a date. 钢铁侠 sends out an email announcing that an angel investor has invested 3 million RMB in 粉叠. 关景恒 and 灵境 kiss. That same night, 灵境 goes to 钢铁侠’s apartment. This is the last time we do this, 灵境 says. I have fallen in love.

 

End Part 1.

 

 

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Geiko

I'm a bit busy these days, but seeing that @murrayjames has joined us made me want to get back on track.

 

I just finished chapter four and agree with your impressions, it seems something is brewing!

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biyalan

I don’t check in on the forum very often so I’m just seeing this now towards the end of the month. I’m a few pages in, though on the ebook it’s a little hard to gauge progress. When people refer to the chapters, are you talking about the big Part 1, Part 2, Part 3? Or are there chapter breaks within the bigger sections? 

 

Anyway I’m a pretty slow reader, but since it doesn’t seem like most people have finished yet (?) I’ll see how far I get. 

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Geiko

@biyalan glad to see another person is joining! Each part is divided into smaller chapters, part 1 goes from chapter 1 to 5, so you can see that we're still at the beginning of the story! You arrived just in time.

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PerpetualChange

Well some personal things have transpired for me over the last week that have made it very hard to focus on reading for now... I do plan to pick this back up, but have gotten the rug pulled out from under me in my personal life and will maybe have to go back to it in a few weeks. This is the first week in probably 2 years that I simply have not studied at all aside from laying on the couch and watching some dramas. 

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Lu

Because I saw you guys reading and posting so diligently, I also got back on the horse. Just finished chapter 4. Some really fun lines and scenes in here, I like this book.

 

Spoiler

灵境 is clearly smitten with 关景恒: she watches all the old episodes of the talent show he and 小潘 competed in. 小潘 is hesitant but supportive: he tries to get the three of them together. Eventually, he succeeds. 关景恒 drives 灵境 home at the end of the night, with a detour on the Airport Expressway, which they discover they both love. I'm still not sure if 关景恒 likes 灵境 as well or if he just wants to win her over to have a friendly voice inside MJ Capital.

 

小潘 is written quite the stereotypical flamboyant feminine gay guy, and on one hand I'm a bit wary of the stereotype, but on the other hand: flamboyant gay guy in Chinese book, that's a win, and 灵境 tells off Iron Man when he says something insensitive about 小潘 being so gay, so that's a double win.

 

@PerpetualChange, that sounds not good, take good care and I hope things will improve. Also, from what you wrote before, this book seems a bit on the difficult side for you and there is over 300 pages of it. If you want to read something easier first for the time being (or just watch shows), you can always come back at a later point.

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