7/13/2016 0 Comments
1) What is the plot?
Marty Wu is a sales rep for a magazine. She sells advertisement pages to other companies. On the biggest deal of her life, of the magazines life, everything falls through because of her indiscretion.
Marty's mother is verbally and emotionally abusive. Despite this, Marty decides to visit Taiwan with her after the fallout from her botched sale which has left her jobless.
2) What are the strong points?
The narration. This piece is in the epistolary form--which is to say, it's written as a collection of journal entries. Marty's voice comes through each and every page, and at times even slips into stage form with players and minimal descriptions/though with Marty's italicized commentary. This narration/voice makes for a quirky read that is as fulfilling as it is unique.
3) What doesn't work?
I don't know if this is a completely fair question to this book. Some books I finish and I think to myself--XXX wasn't working very well. This book doesn't have that botched moment. Throughout Marty's story I just felt like, yes, this seems to be what happened, and if it happened like this, how could anything not work?
But there is one small piece of confusion for me as a reader. Marty loses her big sale near the beginning of the book because she drinks too much and makes a fool of herself. This might be down to the epistolary form, but why Marty picks that specific night to go booze-hound and blow everything, doesn't quite make sense. There isn't explanation other than "sometimes people can't hold their booze." However, it seems a missed opportunity to demonstrate the fatal flaw in Marty's character. Why does she self destruct?
4) What is the subject matter/deeper meaning of the story?
To me, this story was about two things, expectation and identity. Marty is constantly dealing with the expectations of her mother. She's constantly under the impression that she should be someone else, or else she is not good daughter or some such. This book raises the questions of who we are and what we want. Are we actively seeking what we have come to value in life, or what someone else has told us to value?
5) Who will like this book?
I am not the target demographic, and I know this book has been compared to the Bridgid Jones's Diary, which I've not read, so my guess here is somewhat limited. That said, I feel Lai does enough with this relatively short novel to entice readers who like a misadventure, cultural cross-overs, and a dash of existentialism. Bridgid Jones, may be an apt comparison, but another book I can think of with similar subject matter, if not plot or narration, is A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozekio. Readers that enjoy stories about how to exist in a world heaped with expectations that aren't your own will find this a thoughtful and entertaining read.