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Written between 1983 and 1990, these beautifully translated stories take as their themes the fragility of love and life, and the haunting power of memory. In "The Temple" the narrator's acute and mysterious anxiety overshadows the "delirious happiness" of an outing with his new wife on their honeymoon. In "The Cramp" a man narrowly escapes drowning in the sea, only to find that no one even noticed his absence. In "The Accident" a bus hits a cyclist and, as in stop-action film, the chaotic aftermath gives way to a calm, ordinary street corner with no trace of the previous drama. In the title story the narrator attempts to "unburden myself of homesickness" only to find himself lost in a labyrinth of childhood memories. Everywhere in this collection are powerful psychological portraits of characters whose unarticulated hopes and fears betray the never-ending presence of the past in their present lives.
Gao Xingjian has shown a mastery of the epic form in his novels "Soul Mountain and "One Man's Bible. In "Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather, he brings the same passion and precision to the short story.
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