In China with Harpo and Karl

Sibyl James, Author Calyx Books $9.95 (210p) ISBN 978-0-934971-15-7
During 1985 and 1986, poet James ( Vallarta Street ) lived in the People's Republic of China, teaching English in Shanghai; anecdotes from that remarkable year form the basis for 56 brief essays that educate and delight. Possessing a keen eye and a ready humor, she recounts traveling on airplanes that run ``more by luck and whimsy than by science'' and trains that cover 75 miles in 8 hours. A veteran of the ``Dylan and Lennon sixties' version'' of Marxism, she's dismayed to learn that Chinese society isn't classless and that communism is only the veneer over an older ``red'' system--bureaucratic red tape. At a Shakespeare festival, The Winter's Tale is rendered as traditional Shaoxing opera in which women take all the roles, and Macbeth gains a new character: a stuffed parrot that talks. As for the place of women, James is assured that ``there is a Chinese word for feminism . . . but the men don't know it.'' p. 111 James teaches Kerouac over a culture gap, asking students what they would do with a car and the open highway stretching out before them; one answers that she'd sit in the car and think about it for a week. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Hardcover - 182 pages - 978-0-934971-16-4
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