I don’t think you understand how badly I wanted to like Beijing Coma. I LOVE me some historical fiction, I LOVE me some exotic settings, I LOVE me some disillusioned youth rising up to fight the communist dogs, only to be mowed down by communist bullets and plowed under by communist tanks!! Do you not SEE all the LOVE (and all the communists?)!!!
And I know, I have trouble with Chinese names (also Russian ones) and that’s because I’m a dirty racist (just jokes! I love Chinese people!!!) but even if Beijing Coma had been peopled with Toms, Dicks and Harrys, when there are MULTIPLE DOZENS OF CHARACTERS, come on now. I get a little lost. And I know, if I can read the Lord of the Rings and keep Glorfindel and Imrahil straight (oh mercy, I’m sorry. LOTR has become so mainstream-dork that blasé references thereof have lost all meaning) then I should be able to do this, and I know, just open a Word and take a few notes, but friends, reading should not be fun, not work. Say it with me. Tell you what, Jian. You cut your supporting cast by a third, and I’ll pay closer attention. Win win?
Ok, but then, THEN all of a sudden after I’ve been skimming and skimming and waiting for it to be done, I’m totally immersed and engaged and what the hell? When did I get so sucked in? How is it suddenly so interesting that revolutions aren’t all storming of Bastilles and beheading of royals, but rather page upon page of petty infighting and power struggles? Should we or should we not stage a hunger strike? Should we throw eggs full of ink at a poster of Chairman Mao? Stop spending our funds at KFC! And so on. I mean, from the rear view of history we expect all these people to have been acting as one mind but dude, don’t harsh on my agenda!!
And so in the end, le sigh. I can’t totally hate it. But be warned: IT IS DIFFICULT AND LONG! IT WILL BE LIKE READING ANNA KARENINA WITHOUT ANY OF THE STREET CRED!! Consider yourselves heads-upped.