Hao Ran was the biggest Cultural Revolution author in China in his time. He started out writing keenly-observed short stories about poverty in rural areas.

Huang Jin Da Dao is his most famous novel. I really like this vintage cover!

It is also rather hairy trying to clear copyrights with his publisher 🙁

Here is a link to his retrospective/obit:


Preaching to the Converted

Probably because I do not have the balls to do otherwise, I realize that all my “religious” writing is in the above category. I suppose there is the good maxim that any exhortation made must be first made to oneself, which is what Yohannes (my Ethiopian Orthodox deacon friend) told me and which I believe in. But also Christianity is not a huge consolidated bloc with fixed opinions on every issue readily agreed upon and there is plenty to say to just Christians. Actually, if you think about it, most of the NT is basically Paul writing letters to people who are already Christian; almost none of it is state policy prescription -_-. After all a community speaking to itself is more likely to yield interesting and honest discussion than a community trying to shrink-wrap itself for public scrutiny.

C.S. Lewis on Purgatory – and Dentists

My favourite image on this matter comes from the dentist’s chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn and I am ‘coming round’, a voice will say, “Rinse your mouth out with this.” This will be Purgatory. The rinsing may take longer than I can now imagine. The taste of this may be more fiery and astringent than my present sensibility could endure. But More and Fisher shall not persuade me that it will be disgusting and unhallowed.

– Letters to Malcolm

Sketches of Writers!


I have been at the Asia-Pacific Writer’s Conference at UWA for the last couple of days, and here are some sketches of writers – often reading their work or giving lectures (my favourite kind!). Here is Isagani Cruz, famous Filipino writer/professor. Click through to see the rest of the gallery.

Fry at Cambridge

ah yes, colour coordinated coffee shotsBought a copy of The Fry Chronicles yesterday on a whim, because I am a bit of an early Fry fan (Jeeves and Wooster were perfection, and I quite liked him in the Monty Python stuff) plus I admire his work on mental health stuff. So today I was reading the chapter about his time in Cambridge and quite naturally was comparing it with my undergraduate experience. I must say I am quite glad I chose America over England because, despite his self-deprecation and constant assurances that he was incredibly insecure, I can just imagine the ponciness of his set from the outside – mainly because of my own interactions (bare as those may be) with the American superrich. I mean, it’s bad enough when it’s American superrich (the amount of money isn’t so much the matter, it’s more about the social standing and class division aspects), British supperrich/landed gentry/poncy uppercrust sounds about a thousand times worse. And the constant anxiety about being a fraud, intellectual or otherwise, caused by the high idealization of legendary universities is quite familiar. Ah, youth! I must say that with all the flash and dash and pretended sophistication of the H. houses and clubs, they cannot match the decadence of the Cambridge May Balls for the sheer price of tickets and amount of decadence. Cambridge, MA, is, after all, officially shut down for business after 2 A.M., and actual cops do come to shut down your kegger, no matter how posh.

Paul’s Letter to the Americans – Martin Luther King

You may have the gift of prophecy and understanding all mysteries. You may be able to break into the storehouse of nature and bring out many insights that men never dreamed were there. You may ascend to the heights of academic achievement, so that you will have all knowledge. You may boast of your great institutions of learning and the boundless extent of your degrees. But all of this amounts to absolutely nothing devoid of love.

But even more Americans, you may give your goods to feed the poor. You may give great gifts to charity. You may tower high in philanthropy. But if you have not love it means nothing. You may even give your body to be burned, and die the death of a martyr. Your spilt blood may be a symbol of honor for generations yet unborn, and thousands may praise you as history’s supreme hero. But even so, if you have not love your blood was spilt in vain. You must come to see that it is possible for a man to be self-centered in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. He may be generous in order to feed his ego and pious in order to feed his pride. Man has the tragic capacity to relegate a heightening virtue to a tragic vice. Without love benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.

So the greatest of all virtues is love.

How does a 13 year old think?

Novel Research Rant

How does a 13 year old think? Fortunately, due to the extensive chronicling of my life since literacy, it is not hard for me to find out. Unfortunately, I was a nitwit. Which means that it is kind of annoying to trawl through the endless stash of notebooks I have left in my wake, because every two pages I am doubled over in a dreadful grimace which is a cross between laughter and horror. If I were the sort of person who were not so harsh on myself, I would probably have drawn the conclusion that I was a sensitive, ambitious, introspective little girl. But being the proto-draconian-headmistress that I am probably condemned to be later in life, I say, expose the folly!

Examples of Nitwitness:

– Disturbing adherence to school and government propaganda, including lingering, tragical poetry about having to switch schools

– Reader’s Digest-style heartwarming articles

– Whole articles devoted to a “shared moment” (probably completely imaginary) with crush

– Successive entries on completely different crushes, each declaring undying love and that “this is the real thing”

– Verbatim quote: “We have already gone through everything together. … Pretty impressive since it has only been a few days”

– Was convinced she wore “millions of masks”

OK. Slightly more adorable, but still cringe-worthy:

– Earnest belief that daily log of growth of green bean was a scientific experiment

– Log book of coloured Japanese gel pens owned

– Environmentalist posters to save the tiger which I made copies of to paste over the whole house