Friday, May 4, 2012

A light read

Two books on the go, both about China, but very little time to read these days. One is Colin Thubron's Behind the Wall, an acknowledged classic from the 80s as China was opening up. It's beautifully written (perhaps overly so) and has that certain thoroughness of approach which characterizes all his books - like learning Chinese in advance of the trip. The other is J Maarten Troost's Lost on Planet China which is from the Vonnegut-Bryson School of Writing. I love Kurt Vonnegut for his humorous, surreal fiction of short sentences, shorter words and unsophisticated grammar; and I love Bryson for how he introduced humour into travel writing. There must have been witty travelogues before him but I can't think of any. Anyway, Troost combines pithy with witty, and right now it's about all my addled brain can cope with.

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