Xujun's book trailer left me speechless.
"Women can hold up half the sky" is a Mao quote that comes through strongly in Xujun's book. I think Xujun can hold up the entire sky. Her essays on China before and after the revolution are about people, not politics. This is how history is best remembered.
What will the history show after Xujun has been roasted? (Hey, this is a tough one to segue. I challenge you to do better.) Will she be able to handle the hot sauce and chili peppers? Will she expect an apology if we overheat her buns? Will Jeff come back to apologize for blogging naked (okay, she won't be able to answer this one.)?
We have lots to uncover. Let's get going...
Amazon link for "Apologies Forthcoming"
Excerpt from "Apologies Forthcoming" by Xujun Eberlein
Each time a prospective suitor swerved away from Ou Hong, her father couldn’t help but remind her to warm the hues of her face a little. He would clumsily jest, “Have they borrowed your rice and repaid with chaff?” And he always got the rebuttal, “Where do you think I got my hues from?” Those words choked off the even-tempered old man, once an eloquent teacher of Marx-Leninism doctrine. He would quietly lament the metamorphosis of his sweet little girl, while she did what she pleased.
Ou Hong’s mother had died shortly after the end of the Cultural Revolution. As if she could not manage the tremendous relief of waking up from a decade long nightmare, her nerves just snapped like a string drawn too taut. Ou Hong was a freshman then, and her mother’s last words were like a prophecy, that she, Ou Hong, would find a suitor among neighborhood boys, someone she was familiar with from childhood. The unsaid words: someone who wouldn’t mind her aloofness and chronic sarcasm.
No one knew if the mother had a particular boy in mind, and Ou Hong took the prophecy as no more than a loving mother’s kind wish. Four years passed and when graduation time came, Ou Hong was the only girl in her Mechanical Engineering class who had not been paired. On a campus of mostly male students she dated few, and never for very long. She departed university with the crown of ‘cold-eyed princess.’
Then, in the spring, on her first day of work at the Bus Factory, she ran into a neighbor from childhood, to whom she hadn’t uttered a word for 16 years, though she had seen him on TV and around home sometimes.
She was passing workers crowded around two TV cameramen inside the factory’s gate, when a strangely familiar voice glued her feet to the ground. It came from a young man wearing a gray-striped western suit, freely and elegantly unbuttoned. His thin lips moved swiftly over a microphone while the overflowing light from his enthusiastic eyes swept through the audience. The mannerisms were his trademark as the host of the popular TV program, ‘Focal Interview.’ He cast a look on Ou Hong before she could lurch away.
“Hey, look who’s here,” he turned off the microphone and said, “mountains don’t circle but waters do.” His long, girlish eyelashes flapped, as he contemplated the white dress-shirt tucked into her red jeans.
“What a white swan,” he eulogized.
“Was I an ugly duckling before?” Ou Hong said. Immediately she bit her lip.
“No, no, I was,” he said, in the charming self-deprecating tone that had made him adorable to his massive female audience. His voice and smile tore open every little detail of that autumn day in her childhood. She could hear – with a sharp clarity – her own flustered and exasperated voice shrieking, “One day! One day...” and see him bouncing backward, turning with a sinister smile, then disappearing around a corner of the wall.
1) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?
2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?
3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?