Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wednesday's Special Is...Apologies Forthcoming

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"

Xujun's website

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.

Questions:

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?

80 comments:

ChrisEldin said...

I'm still recovering from Elizabeth and Jeff's roasts. Wild ones, they are!!

Let's keep the party going!
:-)

Xujun Eberlein said...

Hey Chris, how did you know I have that Mao quote in the book? I don't remember telling you that...

ChrisEldin said...

I read your site.
:-)

I ordered your book two days ago and can't wait to read it!

Dave F. said...

1) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?
Warming? Warming? That's as hot as she gets, rice white.
2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?
Like bumble bee, good bus visit flowers, carry sweetest part of flower to do good work for Mao. Now that's crock of fertilizer, actually I think a "crock of Dung" is wittier.
3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?
The prophetic Mother says she marries a plain man who puts up with her coldness and sarcasm. That would be so sad. Perhaps she finds passion and the white flower becomes a grand chrysanthemum, or a peony. So old school.

I met several Chinese scientists back in the 80's and they were delightful, hard working people. The one I knew best was 44 y/o had never driven a car. He didn't care. Knowledge was what he prized. He gave up much to come to the USA and do research.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Thanks Chris!

I'm sitting here listening to the New England evening rain and checking my email. I don't think I can stay up through the night like Jeff did (or did he?). But I will come here in the morning to see how people are going to roast me. :-) Very curious.

Chumplet said...

I'm popping in to say hello to Xujun and to say I'm very interested in her book.

I guess I'd better think carefully about my answers!

I don't suppose thongs make the hues warm on her face?

Shona Snowden said...

Xujun, Jeff said he would stay up all night, and then he didn't! See you tomorrow...

I like that quote. I hold up the whole sky in my house.

Sous chef Shona

Shauna Roberts said...

Sounds like a fascinating book. Thank you for visiting Chris' blog, Xujun.


1) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?
The traditional method: pinching her cheeks. However, I suspect she rarely bothers.

2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?
good suspension system, no one is transporting any chickens

3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?
bravery enough to love her

Charles Gramlich said...

1) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?

Answer: A little sake perhaps?

2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?

Answer: Punctuality and a lack of odor.

3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?

Answer: a sense of humor.

ChrisEldin said...

Good Morning Everyone!!

Glad to see a few people inching toward the grill.

But methinks Xujun's nice photo might make people shy about roasting her.

Let's talk about that photo. Why exactly is she smiling? What has she been into?

All I can say is, don't be shy. Xujun isn't.
heheheheheheheeh!!

Let the games continue.....

:-)

laughingwolf said...

1. xujun likes to quaff copious amounts of rice wine to warm the hues... of her face, of course!

2. she sez a bus must be red and winged... the virtual equal of the dream dragon of her childhood...

3. xujun's man must be at least a bit taller than she, the better to swing her around in fancy polka steps!

Mary Witzl said...

I will guess that a good meal eaten with her family helps Xujun warm her face, though a vigorous walk or bike ride will accomplish this as well.

And two qualities of a good bus are decent suspension and good venilation; though I toyed with warmth and promptness. (If this were winter, I know I'd have chosen the latter over the former.)

The last question is the hardest, but I agree with Charles -- a sense of humor -- but if you will permit me two answers, I'll add a faithful heart.

Xujun, your book sounds great.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Good morning everyone!

Dave, you made me laugh picturing a huge bus visiting a tiny flower. :-)

Actually, in the 80s no one in China had car. After I moved to the States, I only started to learn how to drive in my early 30s. My American husband made me sit in a teenager driving class. I was sitting in the back, everyone turning to look at me but not the instructor. After class they surrounded me and kept asking how old I was. :-)

Xujun Eberlein said...

Chumplet, shona, shauna, Charles, laughing wolf, and Mary, nice to see you here! I have to go to post office right now and will be back in a short while to answer your witty comments... meanwhile, could I ask you guys what you think of the book trailer?

mlh said...

) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?

Holding her hands under warm water and then placing them on her face. The heat does the rest.

2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?

An empty bus and a sober driver.

3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?

I'll say an accent. Something new and exciting she can base her next book on.

jason evans said...

Welcome Xujun!

This holding up half the sky thing is making me kind of nervous. It's hard enough to hold up the sky yourself. Then, you add in coordinating with another person. Oh my, the logistics alone....

Is sky-holding a bare hands sort of thing?

--Sous Chef Jason

Demon Hunter said...

1.) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?

Answer: Her lover's warm breath.;-)

2.) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?

Answer: Cleanliness and an friendly driver

3.) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?

Answer: Er, can I really say that on this blog? ;-)

ChrisEldin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChrisEldin said...

Hi again!

We experienced a "Stage 2" outage (whatever that is) and it was a close call about internet connectivity (for me--but the team of trusty chefs is always around to keep things cooking).



Hope that post office isn't too far away....
:-)

Sam said...

I loved the book's trailor. Very haunting music and fine drawings. Bravo!

1) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?
Pinching her own cheeks

2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?
I suppose she'd admire punctuality and the ability to jump over potholes!

3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?
Nice hair?

Xujun Eberlein said...

I'm back!

Shona, despite Mao's historical sins, he often said things unforgettable and witty. He is to be quoted for a long time, I'm sure.

Xujun Eberlein said...

bravery enough to love her Hehe, Shauna, that was my American husband, who dared to date a Chinese girl in the 1980s' China, and got arrested several times because of that.

Precie said...

1) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?

A little, ahem, tandem exercise with her American husband.

2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?

Reliable brakes and a strong air filtration system

3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?

A BIG...............IQ.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Charles, I've studied bus systems for a long time, including my Ph.D. dissertation. Punctuality is just not a intrinsic nature of buses. Ironically, it is the randomness of human behavior at the bus stations (and on the roads of course) that make punctuality impossible. Human behavior against human desire, I'd say. :-)

And yes, a sense of humor is what I desire from a man! How did you know that?

Xujun Eberlein said...

By the way, Chris, do you mind I ask what the animal is in your photo?

ChrisEldin said...

Rhino.

And the underwear (which Jeff wore last night and was quite comfortable in) is a thong with an elastic waistband. I can get you one if you like.

Back to you-- That's really interesting what you said about human behavior making buses late. Do you have any stories you'd like to share?
:-)

Xujun Eberlein said...

Hey, how come everyone knows what kind of man I want?

Laughingwolf, mu husband is a lot taller than me.... When I was in college a girl friend predicted I would want a tall husband and I took that prediction seriously. But when I met my husband I forgot about that completely. I only realized how accurate her prediction was afterward.

And I do love rice wine, even though I'm allergic to alcohol like most Asians, I relish in drinking rice wine.

Have you ever tasted rice wine in a Chinese or Japanese restaurant?

Xujun Eberlein said...

Hi Mary, good to "see" you again! And thanks for the kind words. Yes, a faithful heart is what my man has, fortunately.

Chumplet said...

The trailer is spare and poignant. It says just enough to intrigue, and the music is lovely! Congratulations!

Now I have to try to play the game:

1) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?

Snappy answers to a man's silly questions, and then the look on his face makes her blush.

2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?

The front wheels, and the back wheels. They come in handy when the bus has to move.

3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?

A well-made suit.

Xujun Eberlein said...

mlh, you have an interesting blog! Why do you use a feather as your photo though? And what kind of bird is it? There must be an interesting reason I guess. In the classic Chinese literature, the embodiment of Chinese wisdom is Zhu Geliang the war strategist. He always holds a goose feather fan in his hand. So goose feather is kind of symbolic. I hope you'll be interested in reading the Chinese classic "Three Kingdoms."

An accent! Ha! All you English speaking people have an accent to me.

lainey bancroft said...

Very intriguing trailer! Raises lots of nice questions. Well done.

1) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face?

Yoga. Enough time in that downward dog position would turn anybody's cheeks scarlet...or maybe that's just me.

2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?

A clean bathroom and air conditioning.

3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?

Money, baby. If he can't afford a ticket on a bus with working air conditioning, it doesn't matter how long his eyelashes, and er, other 'stuff' is. Many physical flaws can e forgiven with a platinum Mastercard. Or again, maybe that's just me!

Robin S. said...

Hi Xujun,

Here's what I'm thinking the answers might be...

1) What is Xujun's favorite method of warming the hues on her face? A nice temper fit. (Oh wait - that's me.) No - Instead - a nice morning walk in the fresh air of somwehere.

2) According to Xujun, what are two qualities of a good bus?

That it stops and it goes in the places it's supposed to stop and go.

3) Besides lips and eyelashes, what else does Xujun look for in a man?

Something to bring those skin hues out without the need for any (solo)aerobic exercise.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Jason, if men hold the other half of the sky, then there wouldn't be a logistics problem. :-) The trouble is, some poeple are not holding their part. :-)

Xujun Eberlein said...

BTW, Jason, what is the house in you photo?

Stephen Parrish said...

Hi Xujun. I loved the Michigan Quarterly excerpt on your blog. I'd love to read the whole thing.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Demon hunter, actually I like buses that go bump in the night. :-) I just looked at your blog and it is great!

laughingwolf said...

nii ho maa, xujun... during my first year university, the whole hong kong chinese student body 'adopted' me as one of their own, so here i was, 6'4", sitting around a typical cantonese table, while they introduced me to authentic dishes, rice wine included

they also taught me the proper use of chopsticks... i became so good, i could eat a whole meal of spaghetti using chopsticks only... and yes, i can still pick up a single grain of rice, uncooked! ;)

laughingwolf said...

forgot: excellent trailer for the book, i'll be ordering if i don't win! :)

jason evans said...

Xujun,

That photo is an old, abandoned house near where I grew up. Not even sure if it exists anymore. It was taken when I was a teenager into photograph on black & white infrared film. Kind of a cool effect.

Dave F. said...

My American husband made me sit in a teenager driving class.

You should thank your husband for not teaching you how to drive. My father tried to teach my mother and one slight accident later, my mother still doesn't drive after 60 years. It's much better to learn from a professional teacher.

mlh said...

Xujun,

I would love to read "Three Kingdoms." It sounds so interesting!

As for the feather, it is just something I drew in my spare time. It doesn't really represent any type of bird. I guess I could just use the photo of me that I have posted on my blog, but I'd rather not scare anyone away on this comment thread.

ChrisEldin said...

mlh looks very young in her real photo.
;-)

(Just had to check!)

Xujun Eberlein said...

Sorry guys, I had to run some chores. Back again!

Xujun Eberlein said...

Sam, actually, when I met my husband in China, he had big puffy beard but not very nice hair. Here's a funny bit about the beard: you know, we Asians have a hard time to tell Westerners' age, just as you might about us, and the beard made it even harder. So, although Bob was (still is) younger than me, some of my schoolmates thought he was really old, and spread the rumor that "Xujun married a 80-year-old foreigner". LOL.

On another occasion, Bob and I were traveling along the Yangtze River, and the village kids called him "big brother Marx" because of his beard.

Xujun Eberlein said...

A big IQ! Precie, what a great idea! You got a great answer for the third one except the ....

Xujun Eberlein said...

BTW, Precie, are doing PR? (Just checked you profile.)

Xujun Eberlein said...

Chumplet, I like your answer about the bus!

Xujun Eberlein said...

Lainey, you are right I should do Yoga. It seems I never have the time for exercise other than walking.

Talking about clean bathroom and air conditioning - not even the bus factory I worked had those!

Xujun Eberlein said...

Robin, good answer for the number 2!

Xujun Eberlein said...

Hi Stephen, thanks for reading my blog. If you hurry, you can probably still find the MQR issue in B&N stores. That issue was published in early May, and bookstores usually keep a magazine for three months. That's what I heard any way.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Aha, but LaughingWolf, why were you in Hong Kong?

Xujun Eberlein said...

I love Jason's house photo and mlh's drawing!

Chris, I don't mean to be pestering, but why a rhino?

Sarah Hina said...

Your book sounds fascinating, Xujun!

Here I go:

1) Holding up her end of the sky.

2) Working windows and a good view.

3) Muscle. That sky is heavy, and more beautiful when shared.

Precie said...

Xujun--To answer your question, I'm a mild-mannered tech writer. :) Thanks for asking. And best of luck with your book! It sounds fascinating.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Thanks Sarah! I like your answers, though bus windows are tricky things.

Doreen Orion said...

Hi there!

Sorry to be late to the party, but our bus got stuck in... oh, never mind. Just had to come on over, since I'm sort of a ringer for the 2nd question, no? (Maybe the first, too.)

1 - Fruity martinis made with Chambord. She not only drinks them, but rubs the red liquor on her cheeks. By the time she's done, she doesn't know which has warmed the hues on her face and doesn't care.

2 - A good driver. And, a good relief driver (so she never has to drive - worked for me!)

3 - Ah... it's pretty obvious from the excerpt: a large microphone.

ChrisEldin said...

Xujun is very interested in my butt.

I get this a lot.

hehhehehe!

Xujun, are you working on another book at the moment?

Xujun Eberlein said...

Hehe, great answers, Doreen! You are the bus expert indeed!

Chris, I'm working on a memoir right now and also planning on a war novel.

laughingwolf said...

sorry, my mistake... we were all in british columbia, canada's west coast

Miss Savannah Spitfire: said...

Why, hello, Miz Xujun,

You are such a polite young lady, I don't want to be innuendo-ing away with you.

We admire politeness and manners in the South, and let me just say, any time you want to come on down and visit, why, you just let me know, darlin'.

And I wish you every good fortune for you and for your beautiful writing.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Thank you, miss savannah. I guess a polite Chinese writer does not necessarily make a good roast. :-)

lainey bancroft said...

"Thank you, miss savannah. I guess a polite Chinese writer does not necessarily make a good roast. :-)"

Nonsense, Xujun! Every roast should have a different flavor and yours has been perfect for delicate taste buds. And very entertaining, not to mention educational.

I'm not from the south, but where I come from, polite is always in season.

Shona Snowden said...

Hi Xujun! I've just read through the posts and Lainey has it just right. This is a beautiful conversation.

Let me tell you a secret about our Miss Savannah. She is very fond of cooking, when she can take the time away from her innuendo-ing. I was wondering if you had a nice, simple traditional recipe you might be able to share with her? (Simple, because this is Miss Savannah we are talking about...)

Xujun Eberlein said...

You are very kind, Lainey and shona.

Not sure if if this is simple, but I have a Chinese recipe on my blog, and here's the link: http://www.insideoutchina.com/2007/12/chinese-christmas-recipes-2.html

Xujun Eberlein said...

Oops, that link is too long to work here. Here's a shortened link:

http://tinyurl.com/64g556

Shona Snowden said...

Oooh, yum. I think I could manage that, even if it's too much for Miss Savannah!

I love the flavours of Asian food, and the creative way vegetables are used. Much more interesting than a pot of boiled carrots.

ChrisEldin said...

Yes, after yesterday's meat and potatoes, a delicate vegetable dish is quite nice!
;-)

In a different lifetime, I lived in a townhouse with one Chinese girl, two girls from Thailand, and one girl from Indonesia (who I'm still friends with). They all taught me soo much about cooking! It was really really fun! The funniest thing (to me at the time) was their aversion to cow's milk, so they taught me how to make soy milk and that's what we drank. My favorite dish was a rice dish topped with spicy vegetables and sauce. My Indonesian friend had the most unhealthy menu---everything was fried (but YUM!!)

Oh, Miss Savannah is making me hungry with this conversation....
:-)

ChrisEldin said...

Well, it's 9pm (already!) The time flew by today!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and chatting--and coming up with such creative answers!!!

Xujun will stop by and announce a winner anytime now...

:-)

Xujun Eberlein said...

Thanks, Chris and other roasters! Thanks everyone for coming! I'll read the answers again and decide the winner. Hmm, this is not easy.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Okay, this was very hard. I liked many of the answers, and several of you could be the winner either for your intelligent thoughts or interesting construction of words. In the end, I chose the one who surprised me: precie. She's the only one who says what I should look for in a man is A BIG IQ! That, indeed, was the first thing I looked for. :-)

ChrisEldin said...

WOOOHOOO!!! Congratulations Precie!!

Xujun, I'm so happy for her! You don't know this, but Precie is a contest maniac! This is really nice!!

Thank you so much for being such a gracious author, and taking the time out of your day to talk with us and give us more information about your book.

I'm really looking forward to reading your book. I'm not just saying that, like I do with the other authors. (Just Kidding!!!! Geesh!)

Thanks to everyone!!! I hope you stick around for more....
:-)

Xujun Eberlein said...

Ha! Chris, has she won before then?

Shona Snowden said...

Not here, Xujun. You will have made her day, no, her year!

Thank you so much for your participation, and congratulations to Precie! (You can come down off the ceiling now, Precie. That's right, gently...)

Sous chef Shona

Chumplet said...

Congrats, Precie!

Xujun, you were a delightful guest today. Best of luck with your sales. I'll certainly get my hands on a copy.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Thank you, Shona, thank you Chumplet! I really liked your answers, Chumplet, especially the first two. I'm sure you'll do great tomorrow!

Phoenix said...

Congrats Precie!!!!

And thank you for being such a wonderful guest, Xujun. I didn't post today, but I was lurking, watching to see who came, who was wearing what, who was talking on their cell phone the whole time. And dang it if everyone wasn't being just delightful. Maybe we should just start encouraging people to put our authors in the warming oven instead of on the grill. :o)

Sous Chef Phoenix

laughingwolf said...

grats precie!

and thx to xujun for a fun time :)

Precie said...

Woo hoo!!!!!!!

{{{precie jumps up and down with glee}}}

The roasters know me so well...Xujun, you have indeed made my day! :) :) :) Thank you!!

mlh said...

Congrats, Precie!

Xujun Eberlein said...

precie, please send me your postal info through my contact page: http://www.xujuneberlein.com/contact.htm. I'll send you the book as soon as I have the info. Also, please let me know what you would like me to inscribe for you.

LaughingWolf and mlh: thank you very much for joining me and for your very interesting comments (and the beautiful drawing, mlh)! You both were on my final list. Believe me, the decision was very hard to make. My apologies. I hope you will still consider reading my book though. As far as I know no readers have been disappointed so far. :-)