Saturday Night in Baoding: A China Memoir (C)

Richard Terrill, Author
Richard Terrill, Author University of Arkansas Press $26 (176p) ISBN 978-1-55728-132-6
Reviewed on: 11/28/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
In what might have been a revealing glimpse of pre-Tiananmen Square China, the author, who spent 1985-1986 teaching English in the northern city of Baoding, repeats his main message--in itself reasonable--until it wears tiresomely thin: the government is responsible for everything disagreeable in China, from idiotically inappropriate jobs assigned to the university-educated to the condition of the campus dining-hall tables which, ``unwiped after weeks of meals,'' are pushed aside on Saturday nights to make room for ballroom dancing. Terrill finds the dancing ``a pleasure in a life of little pleasure, a life where pleasure was, and still is, viewed with suspicion.'' His observations are in general subverted by his regrettable posturing as a suffering outcast in a foreign land (``Few people can get beyond . . . the step of finding similarities and differences when living in another culture. Maybe some anthropologists can get beyond it; to a layman, it seems like a tough business''). (Jan.)
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