Brocade Valley

Wang Amyi, Author, Anyi Wang, Author, Bonnie S. McDougall, Translator
Wang Amyi, Author, Anyi Wang, Author, Bonnie S. McDougall, Translator New Directions Publishing Corporation $17.95 (123p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1224-3
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The last in the author's trio of novellas about passion, this tale of an adulterous affair promises drama that it never delivers, although the adeptly translated prose at times conveys visual sparkle, humor and even a few passing psychological insights. In still-puritanical China, Wang ( Bao Town ) may have won acclaim simply for daring to allow the work's protagonist, an editor who falls in love with a writer during a publishing conference, to return to her husband and job without suffering any adverse effects. Wang makes it difficult to care about her unnamed characters, however, by stripping them of personal history and keeping all their emotions implicit: she describes the writer merely as ``the one without glasses''; the lovers' ``most meaningful and comprehensive conversation'' involves only the exchange of the word ``okay''; and the most intense scene concerns the lighting of a match. Readers aren't allowed to see the ``infinite powers of imagination and creativity'' that the woman's affair supposedly stirs up in her, and the narrator's comments seem intrusive rather than enlightening. A final remark proves perhaps more apt than Wang intended: ``I have to release the heroine, and let her walk away without a story.'' ( Nov. )
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