- Pan Macmillan
- Publication Date:
- 21 March 2008
- Modern & Contemporary
Showing 1-4 out of 5 reviews. Previous | Next
The dissident in question is a controversial Chinese artist, who comes to California on an exchange programme, living with a local family and giving art classes at a girls' school during his stay. But the story is at least as much about the family he stays with, well-off but dysfunctional, and their extended circle. Despite the differences in their backgrounds, many of the same themes run through both halves of the story - art, creation and fakery, the closeness and simultaneous tension of family relationships, intergenerational misunderstandings, reality and image, and the role of chance in defining your life. At the same time, the story is not at all heavy - it's very readable, and funny. The use of language to differentiate the characters is another delight - the prissy, short-story writing older sister is very precise and hates cliche, the dissident speaks precise but slightly formal and long-winded sentences. This lifts the story and stops it being dominated by its symbology - for example, the father of the family could be a real stereotype, the psychology professor who has no idea how to interact with his wife or children, but he is drawn with accuracy, economy and wit. The only fault, for me, was the final chapter, which tried to tie up at least a couple of loose ends, but felt like a cop-out - a tacked-on happy ending which didn't follow on from what came before. But as that was only the last three pages, I only docked it half a point.
An excellent story of a young, well raised man, who through his cousin, becomes involved in the illegal performing art world. HIs cousin encourgages and arranges him to stay in America for a year for a fellowship with a university. He teaches at a US high school and is shocked at , firstly, the attitudes of the students and secondly the sloppiness of the "advanced Art" Class. It is through this class that he meets June, a teenaged gifted artist. There are two other story lines, all well written and one is as important as the others.We get a well to do middle aged, housewife whose marriage is disintergrating and the other is our hero's historical background includeing about his cousin.All the stories mesh together nicely and there is no sense of chopping and changing.A smooth execution of all three stories make this book a joy to read
A Chinese artist associated with the radical "East Village" movement comes to LA to exhibit and teach at a girls' private school, while staying with a Beverly Hills family. The book is over 400 pages, yet the characters and plotlines are not all fully developed.
I loved Freudenberger's short story collection & eagerly picked up /The Dissident/ when I saw it in the library. The characters are as lively and fully-conceived as those in /Lucky Girls/--lively enough that in the end I felt like only one thread of the story had been tied up, and all the rest left hanging. But a good read, and an enjoyable fictionalization of the eighties art-scene in communist China.
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