Everything I Never Told You

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Jan 21, 2017 23:59
Last week, when I was browsing Amazon, the website recommended a book called “Everything I Never Told You” to me, lauding the books as a page-turner, and saying that this book had been awarded many prizes such as “the best book of the year” by Amazon. I went on to see the introduction and ratings. This book tells the story of a Chinese American family living in Midwestern America. The author, Celeste Ng, is a second-generation Chinese American woman. This book is widely praised by critics, and is rated 4 out of 5 by over 3,000 customers.

“Hum. I may give it a try,” I thought. I usually don’t read novels much, especially family dramas, because I think it is simply a waste of time. There are, in my opinion, very few good works of drama. Only when the book is gorgeously written, can it be thought-provoking, but there are so few. Since this book was widely acclaimed, I assumed it might be food for thought. I then bought a copy from Taobao, a Chinese online market.

It turned out that reading this book was a sheer torture to me. Perhaps, it was just not the type of book I loved reading. The book was all about the mundane of an imaginary family and people around them. The plots were nothing but boring to me. The book started with two sentences: “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” After that, the author set up exposition to discover the reasons behind it. While reading, I kept telling myself, “Carry on. The story must be unpredictable at the end.,” but the dénouement was turned out to be plain and it wasn’t a murder mystery– Lydia, the drown girl, committed suicide.

All the characters in this book live miserable lives. They think everything in this world sucks. The deplorable, complicated family dynamics contribute to the tragedy. Perhaps, many Americans found it to be new and interesting. But in China, there have been many books like this. K-dramas are aslo full of them. It seems like there is a misery competition for family dramas. The book that has the most miserable story win. But, in fact, they are all artificial. In my eyes, the real-life stories are much more fascinating than those facts-absentee dramas, and that’s why I love reading biographies, from which I can learn people’s experience and life lessons.

To me, the book “Everything I Never Told You” is old wine in a new bottle. The wine is a typical Chinese drama. The new bottle is the setting in the hinterland of the US. And, elements such as misogyny, racism are added. One thing worth being noted is that the prose of this book is good. Celeste Ng majored in English at Harvard. I can tell that the sentence structures are somewhat different from many other American writers‘ - Celeste Ng loves to use parallelism, apparently influenced by Chinese. This is also one thing I envy English: people of different ethnicities have been contributing to the English language literature, thus making the language fascinating, varied and living.
上周,我在浏览亚马逊的时候,网站给我推荐了一本书,名叫《Everything I Never Told You》,称赞这本书引人入胜,还获得了很多奖。比如,获得了亚马逊的“年度最佳图书”称号。然后我去看了看介绍和评分。这本书讲的是一个生活在美国中西部地区的华裔家庭的故事。作者叫 Celeste Ng,是美国第二代华裔移民。这本书受到评论界广泛好评,有3000多名读者参与评分,获得4分。

我心想:“嗯。看起来我应该看看这本书。” 我一般不看小说,尤其是家庭小说,因为我认为纯粹是浪费时间。依据本人鄙见,好的家庭剧小说太少,倘若是写得好,还能发人深思,但问题是这样的书少之又少。既然这本书评价如此之高,我觉得可以看看,所以去淘宝上买了一本。

结果读这本书真是一种折磨。也许这类书不是我的菜吧。整本书都在描写一个虚拟家庭以及身边人的日常。情节也是非常无趣。这本书以两句话开头:“Lydia死了。但没人知道。”然后,作者开始开展情节来探索背后的原因。在看这本书的时候,我反复告诉自己,“再看看。也许故事最后会出人意料。”谁知,结局也是索然无趣。Lydia不过是跳湖自杀而已。

全书中的人物过着悲惨的生活,认为全世界都亏欠他们。复杂,可悲的家庭关系,促成了这个悲剧。也许是美国人认为这种文体比较新奇和有趣吧。但在中国,这样的书实在是汗牛充栋。韩剧也是充斥着这种苦情戏。好像家庭剧的标准是,越惨越好。而实际上,这些故事都是虚构的。我认为,比起那些毫无事实根据的小说,现实生活发生的事更精彩,所以我喜欢看人物传记,从中我还可以学到很多知识和做人的道理。

对我而言,《Everything I Never Told You》不过是新瓶装旧酒。旧酒就是中国那些苦情家庭剧,新瓶子不过是把故事背景放到了美国腹地,然后加一些歧视女性、种族的元素进去。有一点值得一提,这本小说的文笔还可以。毕竟Celeste Ng是哈佛大学英语专业毕业。我能够看出她的文笔和其他很多美国作家不太一样,比如Celeste Ng特别喜欢用排比,显然是受到了中文的影响。其实,这也正是我羡慕英语的一点,就是不同种族的人,一起为英语做贡献,让英语变得更加多元化、迷人和富有活力。