Posts Tagged 'Marshall Cavendish Editions'

If I Could Tell You

If I Could Tell You
Lee Jing-Jing
Marshall Cavendish Editions 2013

Reviewed by Bob Wake

IfICouldTellYou

From neglected children and lost young adults, to the developmentally disabled and the forgotten elderly, If I Could Tell You is narrated by a wide range of multigenerational and multicultural voices. The setting for Lee Jing-Jing’s graceful debut novel is both exotic and excruciating: A condemned public-housing apartment building in Singapore. Most of its residents have been relocated. The skeleton crew of remaining occupants comprise “the old, the poor, people who have had trouble finding a new home.” The novel’s opening pages include a jumper from the upper floors lying dead on the pavement below.

The jumper’s death haunts the neighborhood if not the television news. “I guess it was much too ordinary,” muses a middle-aged unemployed electronics engineer, dismayed by the absence of media coverage. His thoughts return again and again to the tragedy. Soon his dreams are enveloped in apocalyptic imagery:

Then I was on the ground, below the block of flats, looking up while the building leaned to the right, tossing my wife and daughter out of the naked window. The building crashed to the ground like a felled tree, but slowly, silently, as if the weight of it was nothing more than a browned leaf, a scrap of paper. All the while, I just stood and watched and did nothing, my hands hanging by my sides, my feet heavy as rocks. The dream stayed with me the rest of the day. I could hardly look at my wife and daughter during breakfast.

LeeJingJing2

Lee Jing-Jing. Photo: Marshall Cavendish Editions.

Lee Jing-Jing, currently living in Germany, has spoken in a newspaper interview about her public-housing upbringing in Singapore (the book’s cover photo, taken by the author, depicts a now-demolished block of apartments where her aunt once lived). While If I Could Tell You immerses us in poverty and broken lives, nothing here is sensationalized or made mawkish. The unwavering matter-of-factness of the storytelling yields enormous narrative and dramatic power as the novel unfolds.

Language barriers add to the isolation of some characters, such as an eighty-year-old Cantonese-speaking Chinese woman known in the neighborhood as “Cardboard Auntie” because she collects cardboard box scraps and sells them from a cart on the streets. Cardboard Auntie’s impoverished external life masks a roiling internal world of brutal memories (“Tch, I’ve seen worse. When the Japanese were here. Much worse”) and borderline delusional conversations with her deceased husband, whom she addresses as the Old One (“Old One, what do you want for lunch? Fan wat ze jook? Rice or porridge?”).

If I Could Tell You is not without a kind of mordant Hitchcockian humor: the jumper’s falling body is witnessed by multiple characters, often out of the corner of the eye, allowing the author to replay the gruesome event from a variety of subliminal perspectives (“something fell through the air, close enough that they felt and heard the whoosh as it went past them”). It’s a rare debut novel that’s written with such assured mastery of style and tone. The final pages give voice to a character whose despair is so complete that it would be unendurable for most of us. By focusing on the rich inner lives of its societal outcasts, If I Could Tell You tells us plenty: Lee Jing-Jing has written as fine a work of literary fiction as you’re likely to read this year.

 


Mudstone

Recall: A Short Story

Walden West and the Twilight of Transcendentalism

eBook Single .99

Caffeine & Other Stories by Bob Wake

Order Caffeine to Go ($2.99 on Kindle)

Cloud Spew

"A Visit of Charity" 77 Square 2007 Man Booker Prize 2010 Wisconsin Book Festival 2016 Juniper Prize for Fiction 2666 Absalom Absalom! Adam Gopnik Adolf Hitler A Gate at the Stairs Alan Cheuse Alan Greenspan Alcoholics Anonymous Alfred Hitchcock Alison Jones Chaim Alive in Joberg Allegheny Mountains Allison Fiutak All the News I Need Al Pacino Alpha the Moralist Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself American Boy American Players Theater Amy Lou Jenkins And If It Be Mean Andrew Rieger Andrzej Wajda An Evening in Spring An Inventory of Lost Things Anne Donnellan Anne Enright Anne Frank Anne Lamott Anne M. Donnellan Annette O'Toole Ann Morrison Ann Prayer Ann Zindler Anthony Mann Anton Chekhov April Derleth (1954-2011) Arbor Vitae Arkham House Ashes and Diamonds Asperger's Syndrome A Theory of Lipstick At Home in the World A Tomb for Boris Davidovich August Derleth August McGinnity-Wake Autism Autism: Sensory-Movement Differences and Diversity Autism Asperger Publishing Company Avol's Bookstore B.J. Best Bad Axe Bangtail Press Barbara Buswell Barbara de Wilde Barbara Stanwyck Barry Levninson Battle of Stalingrad Baz Luhrmann Because You Have To: A Writing Life Bell Book and Candle Ben Armstrong's Strange Trip Home Ben Averill Bennett and Hastings Publishing Bernard Herrmann Bernard Schlink Big Bill Broonzy Bill of Lading Billy Strayhorn Birdman Birds of Wisconsin Blake Bailey Bob Dylan Bob Wake Bob Wake Goes on a Cruise Bon Iver Bonnie Friedman Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It Botteghe Oscure Bret Easton Ellis Brett Alan Sanders Brian Eno Brian Johnson Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Bruce Bodden Bruce Dethlefsen Buck Henry Burbank Caffeine & Other Stories Calamity Song Cambridge-Rockdale Wisconsin Cambridge Book Review Cambridge Book Review Press Cambridge Wisconsin Carol Quirk Cassandra Wilson Catch-22 Cathryn Cofell Cat People (1942) Cat People (1982) CBR Press Centennial Press Charles Baxter Charles Nevsimal Chelsea Cardinal Chicago Sun-Times China's ghost towns Chris Ellery Chris Hartsfield Chris Lott Christopher Nolan Citizen Kane Civil Rights Clark Street Rag Coleen Gray Coleman Colin Meloy Colony Collapse Press Common Ground Communist Poland Connie Lyle O'Brien Consultation Correcting the Landscape Cottonbound: An Audio Chapbook Council for Wisconsin Writers Cowfeather Press coyote mythology Criterion DVD Czeslaw Milosz D.T. Max Dale M. Kushner Daniel Berrigan Daniel Craig Daniel Fuchs Danilo Kiš Dan Parent Dark Card Darth Vader Dave & Phil Alvin David Allan Cates David Bowie David Carr David Foster Wallace David Hidalgo David Hill David Koch David Letterman David Lipsky David Mamet David Pitonyak Debbie Googe Deborah Eisenberg Deference Del's Supper Club Demilitarized Zone Denis Johnson Dennis Graham Associates Derek Almstead Derrick Harriell Detour DeWitt Bodeen DFW RIP Diana Krall Dierdre Luzwick Disability Studies Quarterly District 9 Dmitri Shostakovich Dorothy Malone Double Indemnity Doug Moe Dr. Tatsuaki Ishiguro draft resistance Driftless Area Duke Ellington Dwight Allen Eau Claire Wisconsin ebook ebooks Echoes economics econophysics Ed Begley Jr. Edenfred Edgar Allan Poe Edgar G. Ulmer Edmund G. Bansak Edmund Goulding Edmund Wilson Edna O’Brien Edward G. Robinson Eighth String Quartet (Opus 110) Elegy Elf Power Elia Kazan Elie Wiesel Eli Roth Elizabeth Strout Elli Hazit Elmore Leonard Emily Dickinson Eric Harris Erik Richardson Ernest Hemingway Eschaton Ester Republic Press Eudora Welty Europe Central Evan Williams Every Love Story is a Ghost Story Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting Everything Ravaged Everything Burned F.J. Bergmann F. Scott Fitzgerald Fabu Facebook ads Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career female jazz vocalists Film Noir Finishing Line Press Fireweed Press Fisherman's Beach Fisherman's Beach ebook Flight Patterns For No One Fox 8: A Story Frances Kroll Ring Francis Kroll Ring Frank McCourt François Truffaut Fred MacMurray Freedom Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Freeman Walker From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity Future Islands Gail Godwin Gangnam Style Gay Davidson-Zielske Geoffrey Chaucer George Eastburn George Romero George Saunders George V. Higgins George Vukelich Georgia Ressmeyer Gerald Fosdal Geri Schrab Gerrit Welmers Ghosts in the Library Giorgio Moroder Giuseppe Cafiero Given These Magics God/Seed: Poetry & Art About the Natural World Go Down Moses Golden Bloom Goldmine in the Sun Goodbye to Language Graphic Classics Gregory Peck Greta Gerwig Halloween Hansa Kerman Pistotnik Harold Pinter Harper's Harvard University Press Heinrich Böll Helen Walker Henri-Pierre Roché Herbert Lovett Hieronymus Bosch High Noon Saloon Hitchcock Holden Caulfield Holy Week horror short stories Houdini Pie How Cow Press Hunger in America Ian Fleming Ian Keith Ian Murphy Icarus Himself Ida Lupino If I Could Tell You Inception In Envy Country Infinite Jest Inglourious Basterds Ingmar Bergman Inherent Vice Inside Outside Morningside In the Aeroplane Over the Sea Irish literature J. Allen Kirsch J. D. Salinger Jacket Copy Jack Lehman Jack Nicholson Jacques Tourneur Jaimy Gordon James Avati James Bond James Brown James Dante James Ellroy James Joyce James P. Roberts James Roberts James Sedwards Jane Smiley Jason A. Smith Jason Epstein Jason Smith Jay McInerney Jayne Anne Phillips Jean-Luc Godard Jean-Luc Marion Jeff Bridges Jeff Esterholm Jeff Mangum Jennifer Arin Jeremy Irons Jeri McCormick Jerzy Andrzejewski Jesus' Son Jet Airliner Jimmy Hughes Jim Stevens Joan Bennett Joan Blondell Joan Frank Jodi Robledo Joel Weisman John Berryman John Cheever John Donne John Heard John Irving John Koethe John Lehman John O'Brien John Smelcer John Tuschen John Updike Jonathan Franzen Jonathan Regier Joseph H. Lewis Josh Cohen José Ángel Valente Joyce Maynard Judge Judy Endow Jules and Jim Jules Furthman Junkie Nurse Justin Vernon Kamil Vojnar Kane County Illinois Republican Party Karla Huston Karl Elder Kate MacDonald Kate McGinnity Kate Winslat Kate Winslet Katherine Anne Porter Katherine Baker Kathy Kaebisch Kathy Sherwood Katjusa Cisar Katz Drug Store lunch-counter sit-in Keats Kenneth Slawenski Kim Garcia Kim Novak Kindle Kindle ebook Kloppenburg Korea Kristine Rusch Kurt Vonnegut Kyle Harper L. A. Times Laird Cregar Langston Hughes Larry Cyr Larry Watson Last Call Late Show with David Letterman Launchpad Laura Carter Lawrence Ferlinghetti Learning to Listen Ledgers of History Lee Garmes Lee Jing-Jing Lester Graves Lennon Lester Smith Lights! Camera! Autism! Lights! Camera! Autism! 2 Like a Cannonball Lillian Ross Linda Aschbrenner Linda Darnell Linda Lenzke Lindsay Lohan Lisa Ladson Lisa Pankratz literary contest Little Creek Press Little Eagle Press Local 311 Pipes & Drums Lon Chaney Jr. Look at the Birdie Lord of Misrule Lorine Niedecker Lorna Stevens Lorrie Moore Love and Theft Lucas Bielijewski Lyn Lifshin Madame Sul-Te-Wan Madison Madison 3/10/11 Madison Magazine Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Madison Wisconsin Madison Wisconsin protests Mahlon Mitchell Maile Meloy Main Street Rag Main Street Rag Publishing Co. Make it Stay Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism's Helpers Malcolm Lowry Malcolm McDowell March 19 2011 Maria Rosa Lojo Marie Mundaca Marjorie Kowalski Cole Marshall Cavendish Editions Martha Leary Martin Amis Martin Scorsese Martin Sisters Publishing Mary C. Schuh Matt Girard Matthew J. Bruccoli Max Garland Mayapple Press Medium Members of Each Other Men without Meaning Metamorphoses Michael Epstein Michael Kriesel Michael Lowry Michael Pietsch Michael Sheehan Middle English Mike Baron Milkweed Editions Mobius Modern Times Mom's Canoe Monroe Stahr Montana 1948 Mort Castle My Bloody Valentine My Life as a Terrorist: Uncovering my FBI file NAACP Nancy Jesse Nancy Zucker Nan Negri Nastassja Kinski National Book Award 2005 Native American folklore Neill Blomkamp Neil Young Neutral Milk Hotel Neutral Uke Hotel New York Times Nicholas Gulig Nickolas Butler Nick Tosches Nick Whetro Nicole Eredics Nightmare Alley Night of the Living Dead Nikolay Middle School Noon Wine Norbert Blei Norma Gay Prewett North Country Notebook North Country Press Northwestern University Press Nothrop Frye Nutcracker Suite Oh Comely Olive Kitteridge online fiction Origins of FIS (Factory in a Suitcase) Orphan Orson Welles Oscar Swan Our Lives Ouroboros symbolism Ovid P.S. Mueller Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated Paradise Drive Parallel Press Parnell Nelson Passionate Nomads Patricia LeBon Herb Patricia Lundy Patty Berglund Paula Anderson Paula Kluth Paul Bowles Pauline Kael Paul McCartney Paul Michel Paul Schrader Paul Soglin Pencil Test Penelope Cruz Penguin paperback Peter Biskind Peter Yates Philip Roth Poetry Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf Polyester Popcorn Press Prairie du Sac Prairie Fire Poetry Quartet Press 53 Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned Psalms public housing Publishing: The Revolutionary Future Quentin Tarantino Quiet Nights Quiver Raging Bull (1980) Rain Man Ralph Murre Raw Deal Ray Bradbury Raymond Carver Raymond Chandler Rebecca Foust Rebecca Williams Recall Red Dragonfly Press Redshift: Greenstreem Return to Walden West Revolutionary Road Revolver Richard Ford Richard Katz Richard Quine Richard Roe Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction Richard Widmark Richard Yates Rick Geary RKO Robert Bly Robert De Niro Robert Fripp Robert Mitchum Roberto Bolaño Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize Robert Zoschke Robin Chapman Rob Thomas Rock 'n' Roll Consciousness Rod Clark Rogers Street Fishing Village & Museum Rolling Stone Rosalyn Coleman Gilchrist Rosebud Rosebud 51 Rosebud 62 Rosebud Book Reviews Rosebud Magazine Royal Trux Ruben Varda Ruby Dee Rush Limbaugh Sac Prairie Sally Wolff-King Salman Rushdie Salvador Dali Sam Spiegel Samuel Beckett Samuel Herring Sarah Busse Satellite Collective Satellite Press saturated phenomena Sauk City Sauk City Wisconsin sci-fi science fiction Sean Connery Sebastian Barry Seoul Sharlto Copley Sharon Hammer Shawn Fogel Sheldon Roth Shirley Hazzard short stories short story Shoshauna Shy Shotgun Lovesongs Shrine of the Tooth Fairy siege of Leningrad Sietske van der Veen Signs and Wonders Simone Simon Simon Knight Singapore Six Gallery Press Slumdog Millionaire Sly in the Morning Somewhere Piano Sonic Youth Soviet Communism Spencer Walts Spiro Agnew Split Personality Spoke Spring Green Spring Green Wisconsin St. Martin's Press Stefan Szczuka Stephanie Bedford Stephen Greenblatt Stephen Hinkle Stephen King Steve Erickson Steve Miller Band Steven Salmon Steve Shelley Stranger in the Window suitcase nuclear reactor Summer of the Cinetherapist sunnyoutside Supermoon Susan Firer suspended animation Sven Birkerts SXSW Tai Taeoalii Tama Janowitz Tamar Jacobsohn Taxi Driver (1976) Tchaikovsky Tell-Tale Camera Telling Time Temple Grandin Tenth of December Texas Review Press Thaisa Frank the 99 percent The Atlantic Monthly The Bagheeta The Best Day The Big Combo The Big Lebowski The Birds The Blasters The Broom of the System The Burning Monk The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari The Cambridge News The Capital Times The Captive Mind The Catcher in the Rye The Comedy of Errors The Conditions of Love The Corrections The Crack-Up The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The Decemberists The Dream Songs The Dude The Dying Animal the eelgrass meadow The Frequency The Friends of Eddie Coyle The G.O.D. Club The Gathering The Gift of the Magi The Graduate The Great Gatsby The Green Suit The Hazards of Love The Humbling The Hungry Dead The Last Tycoon The Love of the Last Tycoon: A Western The Macomber Affair The Magnificent Ambersons The Masturbator The Motion Sick The Mysterious Location of Kyrgyzstan The National Lampoon The New Yorker The New York Review of Books The Pale King The Pat Hobby Stories The Permanent Press The Perpetual Commotion of the Heart The Reader The Second Pass The Secret Scripture The Sheltering Sky The Shield of the Valiant The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber The Silent Witness The Taking Under The Tiger's Wedding The Typewriter Satyr The Village Poet The Wolf Man (1940) The Writer's Cave Thich Nhat Hanh Thomas Christensen Thomas Fuchs Thomas J. King Thomas Merton Thomas Pynchon Three Years from Upstate Thurston Moore Time Out of Mind Tim Jonze Tim van der Meer Tim Ware Tippi Hedren Together Through Life Tom Connor's Gift Tom Pomplun Tom Sawyer Tracy Walczak Tree of Smoke Trimalchio: An Early Version of the Great Gatsby Twitter Two English Girls Two Rivers Wisconsin Ty-D-Bol Blue Tyrone Power UK Guardian Un Chien Andalou Under the Volcano Unexpected Shiny Things University of Massachusetts Press University of Notre Dame Press University of Wisconsin Press Until I Find You Up in the Air Ursula Le Guin UW Bookstore Hilldale Val Lewton Vampyr Verse Vera Farmiga Verse Wisconsin Vertigo Vicky Cristina Barcelona Victory Lap video technology Vietnam War Vote Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court April 5 2011 W.E.B. Du Bois Wag the Dog Walden West Walk Awhile in My Autism Walter Berglund Weird Tales Wells Tower Wendy Vardaman Weshoyot Alvitre What's Up With Your Brother? What Did Jesus Do? Wiggle Room wiki for Infinite Jest Wikus van der Merwe Will Blythe William Cashion William Faulkner William Lindsay Gresham William Maxwell William T. Vollmann Wisconsin Wisconsin Book Festival Wisconsin labor protests Wisconsin literature Wisconsin People & Ideas Wisconsin People & Ideas 2017 Writing Contest Wisconsin poetry Wisconsin politics Wisconsin State Journal Wisconsin writing Writers from the Other Europe WTDY X.J. Kennedy Award X. J. Kennedy Award for Creative Nonfiction Yellow Sky Zbigniew Cybulski Zora Neale Hurston