February 26, 2009

Wild Child and Young Big-Head Spring's Weekly Life Diary

In an earlier post, I talked about ways of picking out novels to read in Chinese. When I picked the book Wild Child by Zhang Dachun (張大春) [or Chang Ta-chun] to read, I used a method that I didn't mention. I checked what contemporary Taiwanese literature has been translated into English, and picked one of those books to read in Chinese. I didn't do it this way because I wanted to appreciate the stories in their original language so much as I did it to save money.

The Columbia University Press lists 18 books under their category of "modern Chinese literature from Taiwan." My guess is that this list represents the majority of all contemporary Taiwanese novels that have been translated into English. I would love to read all the books on this list, but at about US$24 a book, I can't afford it.

One of the books on the list is Wild Kids, a compilation of two books by Zhang Dachun: My Kid Sister and Wild Child. All copies of the Chinese version of My Kid Sister were checked out at the library, but I found Wild Child (野孩子), and it was a fast and fun read. It's the story of a youth who walks away from home one day and never finds any reason to go back home. He gets involved with some other street kids, and starts sleeping in a car and working in a junkyard. These young people are also involved with gangsters and crime.

The book looks as if it were written for children: each chapter of the book is illustated with a crayon drawing, and some editions of the book list the author as "Big-Head Spring," which is the nickname of the protagonist. But I doubt many adults will recommend this book to children, because there is coarse language and mention of sex (and murder, but no one cares about that). None of these are worse than what real high school kids say and hear, but the book isn't trying to when a Newbery prize.

There are certainly aspects of a social novel in the book, but it is pretty entertaining, so it definitely feels like entertainment. If you look, you can find some commentary on education and authority. In fact, discussion of education in Taiwan has been focused for so many years on "educational reform," it is difficult to look at any student's less-than-satisfying experience at school and see it as anything but criticism of the educational system. For example, Big-Head Spring finds more sense of accomplishment from learning how to operate heavy machinery in a junkyard than in anything he has done in school. Also, part of what spurs Big-Head Spring to leave home is when he is knocked on the head by an administator at school. Corporal punishment is on the decline, but it was still very common when the book was written.

Another story in the book that made me wonder about the challenges that youths are facing was the story of a girl name Ani. To earn money, her father opened up a temple. Because the temple became popular, perhaps drawing money away from another temple, a gangster comes around and sets fire to the temple, killing the the girl's family. The gangster takes the girl to his home, where he locks her in the apartment and forces her to care for his elderly mother. When the girl gets older, he rapes her. This is the darkest story in the book. It makes you wonder whether this story was inspired by actual events.

My Kid Sister and Wild Child aren't the only books written by Big-Head Spring. There is another book that is in the form of a diary (written for school). That book is titled "Young Big-Head Spring's Weekly Life Diary" (少年大頭春的生活週記). One common assignment in Taiwanese schools is to keep a diary. In the book, the diary entries are have sections on (1) major events in the week; (2) important news, along with the student's commentary; (3) what the student has learned; (4) reflection and self-criticism; (4) the teacher's response.

This book is written by a younger Big-Head Spring, and so it doesn't deal with the darker aspects of delinquency. It is more of a comedy. At the same time, the book talks about the breakup of his parents. This reminded me of a fine piece of literature, REAL Ultimate Power: The Official Ninja Book. In that book, while the fictional author Robert Hamburger talks about ninjas, there is interspersed the story of his parents' breakup. In Young Big-Head Spring's Weekly Life Diary, the writer is more reflective, but he generally remains upbeat, even while he chronicles the breakup of his family. Here's a quote from Big-head Spring:

Until now I didn't know that even with policemen there are a bunch of crazy people and bad people. When they flip out they can kill people or kill themselves as they please. I think that isn't right. The government should invent a new kind of police who go after the police to protect us. But if this new kind of police randomly flips outs too, there's nothing I can do about it.

See if you can see echoes of that in REAL Ultimate Power:
Ninjas can kill anyone they want! Ninjas cut off heads ALL the time and don't even think twice about it. These guys are so crazy and awesome that they flip out ALL the time.
Well, that may not prove any similarities in structure, but I thought it was funny. In fact, this is one of the funniest Chinese book I've read.

The book touches on politics many times, mostly to comic effect. For example there is a teacher who is a DPP supporter. He is distressed that some kids can't sing any songs in Hoklo, so he makes them learn songs and sing them in class. Another DPP supporter is Big-Head Spring's mom. His dad, on the other hand, is a KMT supporter, which leads to arguments.

At the end of the book are three short critical essays. One of those essays states that Zhang Dachun mentioned that the book is ripe for interpretations according to different critical theories, a Freudian analysis would look at the protagonist's relationship with his parents, a literary sociology analysis would look at the political messages, and the opposition between the pro-DPP mother and the pro-KMT father. A feminist analysis could also look at that dynamic. There are a couple more examples, but what I found most interesting is that these essays all took a light book so seriously. The essays are too short to say much, but I think it's a good idea to gets students who read the book for fun to look at it more thoughtfully.

* * * * *

Like Xiaoye who I mentioned in a recent post, author Zhang Dachun is the winner of a literary award from the United Daily News and has his own blog.



  • معرفة كيفية شراء الاثاث المستعمل بالرياضيوضح الفرق بين وجود المنتج الرخيص الذي تنهار مرة الأولى كنت قد استخدمت أو الأثاث الرخيصة التي يمكنك لا يزال يتمتع لفترة طويلة دون إعادة طلاء عليه. وهناك سبب آخر هو أنه عندما كنت تعرف كيفية شراء الأثاث المستعمل، سوف تكون قادرة على الحصول على مصمم أو مكلفة و / أو نادرة الأثاث العتيقة في جزء بسيط من التكلفة التي ستنفق عادة عند شراء نفس اليد الأولى.
    شراء الاثاث المستعمل
    الأثاث يأتي في أنواع مختلفة، والتصميمات والمواد والأشكال والألوان والأحجام. خدمة بعض لغرض الزينة، بعض خدمة القطع الفنية اعتبارا من الأثاث، في حين أن البعض الآخر شكلا وظيفة.
    إن اختيار هذا النوع من الأثاث هو متروك لكم وأنتم سوف تكون واحدة من واستخدامه لسنوات قادمة. لذلك عندما كنت ترغب في شراء أثاث رخيصة، يجب أن تكون ذكية في القيام بذلك، وهنا طرق ذكية حيث سوف تكون قادرة على الخروج مع أفضل الأثاث لزيادة تجميل منزلك.
    شراء الاثاث المستعمل بالرياض

    س المتقنة أثاث مستعمل يمكن العثور عليها في كثير من الأماكن. يمكنك العثور عليها في الاسواق، المرآب المبيعات حي، والأسواق برغوث، والمزادات العقارية. يمكنك حتى العثور عليها عبر الإنترنت من خلال مواقع مثل: كريغزلست وموقع ئي باي.
    شراء اثاث مستعمل الرياض
    س هذه الأماكن وغالبا ما يكون نادرا أو يجب أن تشتري الأثاث أنك لا يمكن أن ندعها تفلت من أيدينا، لذلك قبل أن شخصيا بزيارة هذه الأماكن، يجب أن يكون لديك ما يكفي من المال معك لدفع ثمن الشراء.

    By Blogger aboshady, at July 22, 2016 11:27 PM  

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