Mr. Ding's Chicken Feet: On a Slow Boat from Shanghai to Texas
Book: Mr. Ding's Chicken Feet: On a Slow Boat from Shanghai to Texas , by Gillian Kendall, ISBN10: 0299219445, ISBN13: 9780299219444, University of Wisconsin Press, September 2006, Paperback
Gillian Kendall is a freelance writer who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Her work has appeared in many publications, including The Sun magazine, Glamour, Girlfriends, and Curve. She is the coauthor of How I Became a Human Being and contributed a short story to The Student Body, both published by the University of Wisconsin Press.
After accepting a job teaching English on a small engineering vessel traveling from Shanghai to Texas, Gillian Kendall embarks on a strange journey with no ports of call but exotic emotional landscapes. She is the only female aboard, surrounded by Chinese men. The cosmopolitan graduate student suddenly has to adjust to an alien world, thick with cigarette smoke, unusual sea creatures, and male sexuality. Kendall invites readers to travel with her across cultural divides as deep and mysterious as the Pacific while she explores her own culture, orientation, and heart.
There's a lot of potential in the story of a young American woman hired onto a Chinese vessel to teach the sailors English as they cross the Pacific, and Kendall, a freelance writer who lives in Australia, hits it from time to time in this swift and eventful memoir of her weeks at sea as "Teach-ah." The setting is ripe for misunderstandings, loneliness, bonding and self-reflection. As her students' English improves and Kendall's Chinese and "Chinglish" develops, she befriends some of the men on board, attempts to sort out a series of cultural faux pas and thinks about her doomed relationship with her boyfriend back home. She hints at the deeper issues that influence her, most especially her nascent homosexuality, but only with glancing strokes that leave much unexplored and the relationship between the reader and writer stymied. The fun, however, is in the stories of the daily navigation of tight quarters, cultural collisions and storms and the cigarettes, sweets and chicken feet that get them all through the long days and nights of sea and sky. (Oct. 3) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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