Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Part 2)

SPOILERS
I was discussing my blog entry on Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Part 1) with a Chinese physicist friend, and she pushed me a little on how I would rewrite the ending, which seemed to twist me into such a knot. (This is per the novel, not the film, which I haven’t seen and which I’ve heard tweaks the ending somewhat.) For anyone interested, here is my response. (If this sounds quite critical, note from my first review that I loved the book but felt a little deflated at the end in a way that the conventional interpretation could not explain; hence, this follow-up.)

To clarify, I have no problem with the ending per se. My problem is with the conventional interpretation of the ending – that the little seamstress makes a good, wholesome decision. My reading (let’s call it the Romantic reading) may be no better than the conventional one (let’s call it the political reading), but here are my thoughts about why I feel this way.

First if I wanted the ending to look “good” for her decision, I’d give her a little more ambivalence about leaving her lover and friend. This is, on one level, a coming-of-age novel, and these kids learn much about love and friendship and loyalty along the way. She seems too ready to throw all that in the garbage at her first chance at the city. So I’d like to see a bit more emotion, sadness, mixed feelings about dumping them so quickly. They, after all, also have something at stake per what they are learning about love and friendship and loyalty.

Second, I’d drop the “blue Mao jacket” from her city slicker wardrobe. The cultural revolution has been negatively portrayed throughout the novel, and it’s hard not to see her putting on the Mao jacket as a symbolic gesture of putting on the (inauthentic) identity of the cultural revolution simply because it will help her leverage her interest in the city.

Third, I’d drop the last line, which equates female beauty with $$ value (to be gained in the city by dumping your friends and assuming the correct ideological self-presentation). I would have her learn something more complicated from Balzac, something more bittersweet about love, friendship, and doing what you need to do.

If we leave the ending the way it is, I can’t give up my Romantic interpretation (which sees her final act, as it is presented, as a sign of depleted values). I can SEE the other side that favors her decision as a cold political calculation that makes sense, but I can’t feel it in my heart.

So in order for me to feel the justice of the conventional interpretation, the ending would have to be modified to (a) be consistent with previous attitudes about the cultural revolution, (b) suggest that she really does care about Luo and her friend and at least has mixed feelings about discarding them without notice, and (c) the last line about Balzac would probably have to change into something a bit more emotionally complicated.

Maybe I’m wrong and all those conventional readers are right, but I have to be true to my heart 😊

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Love’s Ragged Claws 99c

My short novella, Love’s Ragged Claws, is featured and discounted for instant Kindle download this week (99c on Amazon US, still cheap on Amazon internatl 🙂 ) Warnings: [1] one character has a filthy mouth, though I think she’s still lovable 🙂 ; [2] it is neither pro- nor anti-Catholic but definitely not the orthodox Catholic story some early readers presumed after reading the description below.
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Shortlisted for the Faulkner-Wisdom Prize https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08RSNTR2B/

A stop at the confessional becomes a life story. Fifty years, three sins of the flesh, all of them unique, touching, funny, and remarkably real. From their hippie lives in the 1970s to their old age today, the characters pull out the little epiphanies that would become reference points of meaning for the rest of their lives. Adult language.
Featured on the sites below:

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Free love, free hippies

HIPPIES FREE this week. Download now.

4.2 stars on 50 Amazon ratings. Selected for Oregon community radio interview.

Follow Jazmine and Ziggy as they stumble through the sights, sounds, and ideals of the 1960s toward a dramatic personal climax.

Go ahead. Click it. Release your inner hippie.

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Read it. Share it. Drop a rating on Amazon.

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Oregon Community Radio: Gary talks “Love’s Ragged Claws” and more

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Friends, lovers, vagabond spirits!

Below is last week’s interview for
Love’s Ragged Claws and my other novels on Eartheart Radio (Oregon Community Radio). Derek, Eartheart host and a good brother to all, has interviewed all manner of characters from Wavy Gravy and Squeaky Fromme to Bhagavan Das (Baba Ram Dass’s first guide in India, as chronicled in Be Here Now). You might want to follow Derek’s weekly Eartheart shows on KSKQ Oregon. Or at least show some love in clicks and comments below the YouTube post of the program.

For what it’s worth, I was paired for my segment with one of the principal deities in the Hindu pantheon, Lord Brahma.

Interview at 1:45-19:35 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0UnCCmsJNA

(The audio connection wasn’t perfect, but the chat was full and friendly.)

Click HERE for Eartheart’s YouTube home.

Click the cover below to link to Love’s Ragged Claws (a 55-page novella).

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Shortlisted for the Faulkner-Wisdom Prize  
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08RSNTR2B/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BooksByGaryGautier

Other fine books by Gary Gautier (clickable covers):
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Good free book

Goodbye, Maggie (shortlisted for the 2019 Faulkner-Wisdom Prize) is FREE this week on Amazon (Kindle).

(If you take a freebee, don’t forget to drop an honest Amazon review or rating. These help authors as well as prospective readers.)

Click the cover below to link through. (Read some excerpts below.)

Get your copy while it’s free. Or if you have a copy, gift a copy or two to friends. Just tell them to be polite and write a brief and honest Amazon review in return for the freebie 🙂

Phil’s life becomes a fiasco of misdirection when his charismatic brother, Magnus, shows up with the news that he has murdered someone and asks for sanctuary. Magnus then disappears – with Phil’s girlfriend, Hermia – and Phil lands on an uneasy road trip through small town Louisiana with Gus, another rival for Hermia’s attention. Phil and Gus, white and black, find racism, madness, and unlikely friendships as they roll through the bayous and into New Orleans.

Excerpts:

First page

Closer to the end

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Love’s Ragged Claws, Gary Gautier author interview

Click through to original to see full interview.

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08RSNTR2B/
Author website: http://www.garygautier.com/

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

blog-q&a

Today I’m not on a blogtour, but doing my own interview with Gary Gautier, author of ‘Love’s Ragged Claws’, to promote his book.
Before I let you read my Q&As, I’ll first post some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

bio picNew Orleans native and world traveler, Gary Gautier has taught writing and literature several universities and has published books for adults and children. Love’s Ragged Claws was shortlisted (top 10) for the Faulkner-Wisdom Prize. Gary has had a children’s book featured in the Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Market, a scholarly book selected for Edwin Mellen Press’s Studies in British Literature series, and a screen adaptation of his novel, Mr. Robert’s Bones, was selected to the second round (top 10%) at the Austin Film Festival…

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Release your inner hippie

HIPPIES FREE this week. Download now.

4.2 stars on 47 Amazon reviews. Selected for Oregon community radio interview.

Follow Jazmine and Ziggy as they stumble through the sights, sounds, and ideals of the 1960s toward a dramatic personal climax.

Go ahead. Click it. Release your inner hippie.

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Read it. Share it. Write reviews.

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New novella – Love’s Ragged Claws

Love’s Ragged Claws (55 pages) now out. Faulkner-Wisdom Prize finalist. Get it. Share it. Write reviews. ($7.12 Pap., $3.91 Kindle)

Link: http:amzn.to/3cwDBaj

Gabriel enters confession for the first time in 50 years and tells the priest he has only three sins to confess, all sins of the flesh, and the confession opens up the byways of human identity and human relationships as it weaves the tale of the three sins. This short novella moves back and forth between Gabriel’s hippie life with the three women in the 1970s and their continued contact in old age, as they reflect back and pull out the little epiphanies that would become reference points of meaning for the rest of their lives.

“A stop at the confessional becomes a life story . . . three sins of the flesh, all of them unique, touching, funny, and remarkably real” (John Allen Stevenson, Professor of English and author of History of the British Novel: Defoe to Austen

“The flow and style carry you along, beginning to end” (Michael T. Tusa, Author of Chasing Charles Bukowski and A Second Chance at Dancing)

“A brilliantly woven narrative spanning five decades and three enduring yet elusive relationships” (Robert Okaji, Author of From Every Moment a Second and I Have a Bird to Whistle)

Love’s Ragged Claws is brand new, it’s cheap, and it’s a short read, so let’s get some honest reviews up on Amazon! Email me, too, and let me know what you think!

Gary (drggautier@gmail.com)

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From Shrooms to Hippies

I didn’t quite realize it but now Hippies is 99c. Follow Jaz and Ziggy through the risks and pleasures of the 1960s. Go ahead. Click it. Release your inner hippie.

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Read it. Share it. Write reviews.

Click covers below for links.

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