Book: Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather

Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather by Gao Xing Jian

I bought this book after it was rather deliriously reviewed on NPR.

While there are a few interesting moments in the book on the whole, I was left wondering what all of the breathless praise in the review was about. The last two short stories in the book where particularly unsatisfying. The short that shares the same name as the book moves along nicely then absolutely disintegrates into a stream of consciousness load of blather. It’s almost as if the author couldn’t figure out an ending so he pulled the literary equivalent of the last 10 minutes of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey movie.

The final short in the book reads like a collection of snippets for ideas for scenes in a book (or even a film for that matter). They don’t come close to hanging together and have the jarring effect of poorly done free jazz (to my eyes anyway).

I’d give this book about 2 out of 5. Not a total clanger, but definitely not one that I would read again.

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