《奇怪的石头》读后感

当我还在啃谷歌董事长施密特的那本《数字新时代》时,惊闻彼得·海斯勒(Peter Hessler)新作上市。作为认真读完这位美国作家前 的脑残粉,新作自然会在第一时间买一份回来。

Strange Stones, a Kindle ebook
彼得·海斯勒作品《奇怪的石头》

他上一本书《寻路中国》是 2010年出版的,按照四到五年一本书的节奏,下一本书应该会在今年或明年出版。但《奇怪的石头》并不是长篇新作,而是一本由十八篇短文组成的合集。这里面还有几个故事有炒冷饭嫌疑,好在仍有不少故事并没在前三本书里出现过。

虽然有那么一点失望,但好在彼得的书写得都很有趣,这个天气还不错的初夏总算是有点乐子可以找。

第一个故事就把我吸引住了,在这篇名为《野味(Wild Flavor)》的文章里,彼得描述了他去广东省吃老鼠的故事。我不是猫,吃老鼠这件事情让我觉得有点不可接受。好在作者把这件事情写得非常欢乐,读完这个略微悲伤的故事之后居然还挺开心的。

广东的老鼠讲完之后,下一篇开始讲北京的胡同。看样子彼得在锣鼓巷附近的小菊儿胡同住过一阵子,但这也是一个悲伤的故事,你知道伟大的拆迁队会毁掉一切。接下来的这篇关于长城的故事倒还好,讲述了一位美国人在北京研究长城。然后这篇《肮脏的游戏(Dirty Games)》又跑回美国和尼泊尔去讲“和平队”的故事。

作者应该是故意没有把这些故事按照时间排序,也没有刻意将东方和西方的故事分开。这本来就是一本小短文合集,二十来页一篇,非常适合我在通勤时间内阅读。

倒数第二篇故事可以翻译成《西游记(Go West)》,讲的是作者搬家去美国科罗拉多州的事情。近几天这个州发生了严重的山火事故,CNN 上不停闪动的新闻忽然让我有了时空交错的感觉。好在我知道作者全家如今住在开罗,他正在以美国人的视角来讲述中东地区的故事。也许下一本书真的如期出版,应该是在讲埃及了吧。

说到科罗拉多州,最后一篇《丹医生(Dr. Don)》值得读一下。这是一个正在消失的小镇,作者因为要追求一个相对封闭的环境才搬家至此(参阅《西游记》)。这个镇子看上去跟中国的某些镇子几乎一样,但又那么的不一样。

ps
《奇怪的石头》在 Amazon 有售,价格 9.78 美元。

———-中英文读后感分割线———-

Hessler’s fourth book released when I was reading The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt. I enjoyed all previous three books. No reason not to read his latest one.

His last book was published in 2010. According to his pace, the new title should arrive this or next year. But I found the new book is not what I expected. This is a collection of his New Yorker works. To be exact, eighteen short essays are collected.

However, I’m not a New Yorker magazine subscriber. Some of the eighteen essays are still new to me.

The first essay Wild Flavor attracts me. Hessler visited Canton. He had two lunches there. The main course was rats. Even as a Chinese myself, I also find these dishes are far too exotic. I’m not a cat anyway. Hessler has a way to make his story joyful, including this one.

After the entrée, I feel like started for a safari. Hessler takes me to Hutongs in downtown Beijing, the great walls near inner Mongolia, a field trip to Nepal for an insider story of Peace Corps.

He didn’t put the essays chronically, nor separating from east and west. They are just short stories. A perfect book for reading in the commute.

In the next to last essay Go West, Hessler told a story of moving from Beijing to Colorado. Unfortunately, sever wildfires breaks out there. This makes me a little dazed. You know, the news flash from CNN, the story from Hessler at the same time. But I knew he lives in Cairo now. He’s writing stories in mid-east from an American’s perspective, just like what he did in China. Maybe that is what his next book is talking about.

Talking about Colorado, I recommend the last essay Dr. Don. The small town feels like somewhere in China. But I know they have different future.

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