mistersandman: How would you feel if you had to put on a really stupid hat? (RAGE)
[personal profile] mistersandman
Life is full of wonderful small surprises, like finding a Chuck-E-Cheese token sitting on a park bench or having a pleasant conversation with a stranger on a bus. And then there are the other surprises.

I reserved Shenzhen: A Travelogue by Gary Delisle from the library. It was one of the few non-fiction books on Shenzhen in the library's collection and I wanted to get to know my future home a little better. When I finally got my hands on it, I was surprised to discover it was a comic book, entirely etched in charcoal.

Intrigued, I read the book in an afternoon between classes. To say the least, it filled me with loathing.

Memoirs and autobiographies make me a little uncomfortable. I'm very bad at opening up about my life in writing, particularly writing that is intended for the public. So I feel guilty judging the authors of these works in the same way that I would judge a fictional or historical character. That said, Gary Delisle is everything that I hate about Americans abroad, with the compounded facetious disdain that I hold for people with the misfortune to be born Canadian. During his stay abroad, he displays no interest in understanding the country or its people, if not outright condescension. Whenever he depicts Chinese people holding a conversation, he uses a random string of meaningless characters:

Yes. That is what counts for humor in Shenzhen. Delisle is supposedly well-known for Pyongyang, a similar travelogue on North Korea, but I can't imagine how it became popular if the political commentary came across in the same condescending tone:

Delisle never hesitates to tell the reader how miserable he was during his three months in China. But how could he not be miserable? He goes to the same restaurants and eats the same dish every day. His total lack of imagination or any semblance of a sense of adventure is simply appalling.

He can't be bothered to learn the name of his favorite dish or get to know his translator of three months for longer than 30 minutes, but he relishes in depicting Chinese people who attempt to communicate with him in English as annoying and simple-minded.

Christ, what an asshole.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-17 05:09 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] treesahquiche
You should post this in [community profile] scans_daily.

But yeah, Christ what an asshole indeed. To be fair, though, I was pretty miserable and bored when I was in China last summer. But the food was delicious and I never ate the same thing twice (except for my grandma's dumplings, but the first time they had shrimp in them and the second time they had lamb, so it doesn't really count).


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August 2011

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