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Author Topic: PC165: The Paper Menagerie  (Read 22395 times)
radlilim
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« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2011, 02:28:00 PM »

This was beautiful, I love the animals (like most other commentators it seems). I felt I had a connection to this one, my boy friend is half Korean and I know his mother had a hard time when she came over to the US with a child and a new husband. I don't know her whole story, and I don't know if it has much in common with the one in this story, but knowing how strong she is allowed me to understand the mother better.

Great work!
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Seekerpilgrim
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« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2011, 02:39:03 PM »

Another beautiful story, showing that fantasy doesn't always have to be large and noisy, and that magic sometimes is more powerful for it's subtly. A bittersweet reminder that you will one day run out of tomorrows to tell the people you care about how much you care about them, so you'd better do it today...and yes, I did start tearing up at the end.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2011, 02:40:57 PM »

Very beautiful story with a touching look into the life of an immigrant, and her family's story.  Part of me worried that the MC would fall in love with the girl translating his mother's letter, but I'm glad it ended the way it did.

For me, it was legos.  Lots and lots of legos.  My friends, brother, and I all pooled our Star Wars legos to make a 5 ft long star destroyer, before any such kit was available.  
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Scattercat
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« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2011, 05:52:18 PM »

I'm a cynical bastard, I guess.  It was a nice story, but I found it a little too overt in its attempts to pluck my heartstrings.  It just lunged right in with both fists; didn't even buy me a drink first.

On the other hand, I do tend to dislike direct sentimentality in general.  Here, Mom's letter was just... it was like getting hassled by an emotional panhandler.  "Give me some wistful tears or I'll cough on you!"  Ah, well.  The living origami was fun.  I enjoyed how it was central to the story without being the point of the story. 

Overall, I liked "State Change" way, way more.  This wasn't bad, it just wasn't at all suited to my tastes. 

(I was strongly reminded of "American Born Chinese," a graphic novel that deals with many of the same issues, and likewise has a light and deft touch of fantasy to it.  If you liked this story, give that book a try.  I had similar reservations about it, but if you loved this story, then you already know that you don't mind that stuff.)
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Djinndustries
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« Reply #24 on: July 18, 2011, 02:59:00 AM »

The story was heart-wrenching and well-executed without a lot of unnecessary exposition.

Great reading, too, though typical of Mr Khanna. That said, one of troublesome things about reading stories is, of course, the rare mispronounced word. They crop up from time to time (I seem to remember a 'propriety' pronounced as 'property' in a story not too long ago) and are forgivable, certainly. The trouble is, though, they are jarring when you hear them and take you abruptly out of the story for the moment. While most Americans are becoming increasingly familiar with Spanish and say quesadilla correctly, most are not so familiar with Chinese. But mispronounced foreign words are just as jarring as mispronounced English words for those that are familiar with the language. So, I think next time, a bit of research should be done to make sure the foreign words are a bit more accurate and we're not yanked prematurely out of our reverie.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2011, 03:58:46 PM »

Such a beautiful story. It made me tear up several times, in a good way. Like many others, I loved how the origami animals were infused with so much personality. I shook my fist at my ipod when the MC's friend tore up his tiger and cheered when he came back so many years later. Smiley
 
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yicheng
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« Reply #26 on: July 19, 2011, 05:27:51 PM »

I normally don't say this, but this story really should have used either a native Chinese reader or someone that could speak fluent Chinese.  While I'm sure Mr. Khanna tried his best, the Chinese language is very tonally dependent.  Being a native speaker, I honestly don't know how a non-native reader would learn the tones except by massive immersion and vocal coaching, but I have seen and talked to incredibly fluent non-natives of the language (so it's definitely possible).  I had to spend several minutes after each line trying to figure out what he said.  Normally, this wouldn't have mattered to me, but in this case, I felt that mother's words were very central to the story, and it was a bit off-putting trying to piece together what was said.  I do give him credit for trying, though.  It was on-par with the Chinese on Firefly/Serenity.

The story itself was a bit too depressing and melodramatic for my taste, although to Ken Liu's credit, this is actually pretty typical of Chinese stories and soap operas.  True love is never requited unless it's way too late and the love of your life is dying in your arms, the parent sacrificing for the child who never realizes it until the parent is dead, the dutiful child sacrificing for the parent and the parent not realizing until it's too late, etc...   

To me, the characters were a bit too one dimensional: the father was largely known by his absent, the mother was long-suffering tragic and sacrificing, and the narrator was the ungrateful brat who realizes that he's ungrateful.  They seem to make a point of asking the mother to adjust to learning how to live and act "American", and yet the father seems to get a complete free pass at marrying a foreign mail-order bride.  If I were to go to the trouble of marrying an American (which I have) and ask her to move to China, I would at least expect to meet her half way and learn the language, culture, and customs of my wife's homeland.  I also thought the Mother dying of cancer was a bit too convenient of a plot device. 

Personally I would have wished for Mr Liu to paint a less stereotypically subservient picture of the Chinese mother.  Chinese women are so much more than the docile housewives or exotic sex-objects that popular media seems to portray them as.  The Chinese women in my life are some of the most spunkiest, entrepreneurial, independent, hard-working, and (yes) fiery women I know.

Finally, I guess I was lucky that I grew up with a father that would echo the words of Tyrion Lannister, saying to me: "Never forget that you are Chinese.", meaning that I would always have to work/study harder than my american friends because the odds were against me.  To me, "fitting in" and acting "normal" was always just that: an act.  Actually being normal was never an option, so I never bothered.

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Never forget who you are, for surely the world won’t. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.  -- Tyrion Lannister
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grokman
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« Reply #27 on: July 19, 2011, 10:31:48 PM »

I liked how the fantasy aspects of this were barely more than part of a character's feature list. We didn't have to sit through another story about how a new generation attempts to, and finally, learns the magic of the previous generation. I found it very gratifying that the boy didn't have the ability to breathe life into origami, nor even have the desire to acquire that ability. His mother's magic was not a freaky device to fear and exploit - in fact, he struggled with whether or not it even really existed or was just faulty childhood memories.

My own family dysfunctionality is too different from the family in the story, so I was not able to connect to their struggle very deeply on any emotional basis, but I can appreciate how others might.
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Swamp
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« Reply #28 on: July 19, 2011, 10:47:27 PM »

I loved this story, though I was less affected by this than I anticipated, not that that makes the story a failure.  I think it was very well written.  I dig stories with lots of emotion in them.  

But yeah, between this story and "Hokkaido Green" by Aidan Doyle which the Drabblecast ran a few weeks back, I think the theme of "appreciate your parents while you can" has been well represented on the podosphere.


Edit: Added some verbage to help express how much I liked the story.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 11:11:42 AM by Swamp » Logged

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Thomas
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« Reply #29 on: July 20, 2011, 08:34:25 PM »

Thank you, podcastle for this sweet touching story.

yes it was manipulative, but that's true of any story.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #30 on: July 20, 2011, 09:56:22 PM »

But yeah, between this story and "Hokkaido Green" by Aidan Doyle which the Drabblecast ran a few weeks back, I think the theme of "appreciate your parents while you can" has been well represented on the podosphere.

That one was also very good. Recommended. However, it ended on quite a different note.
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Talia
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« Reply #31 on: July 20, 2011, 11:03:11 PM »

Wonderful story, though the husband was definitely an ass for not sticking up for his wife a little.

I have a weird sort of connection to this story - I grew up in the Connecticut suburbs next door to my Chinese best friend, who was living in a bilingual household and who practiced origami herself. Heh. If any of her origami had come to life I would have been thrilled! Tongue



Wasn't there another Podcastle story with origami ... and a bookstore in the American frontier with a Japanese immigrant woman??


Perhaps you were thinking of this?
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Contented Reader
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« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2011, 07:07:58 PM »

I loved the living origami animals, and the way they were described was my favorite part of this story.  But they were bonus features- this story didn't have to be a fantasy story, and if it were written as a contemporary story of a conflicted son and his sad mother, and a letter found after it's too late, the story would be just the same and have just the same effect. 

I'm not saying that's a good thing, or a bad thing.  It's just a thing I noticed.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #33 on: July 25, 2011, 09:29:50 PM »


Wasn't there another Podcastle story with origami ... and a bookstore in the American frontier with a Japanese immigrant woman??


Perhaps you were thinking of this?
[/quote]

Yeah, that's it, thank you.
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dromeda
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« Reply #34 on: August 04, 2011, 09:34:39 PM »

I might be in the minority here, but I cried at this one. Hard. Sure, it may have been melodramatic, and maybe I'm just a big old softie, but it really reminded of my relationship with my mother and Chinese culture in general- something that I'm only now at the age of 25 starting to fix. So this got me right where I am and it got me hard. So, I'm just saying, I really felt it, and I'm glad I wasn't at work or driving anywhere because I'm pretty sure I would've had to pull over.
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mbrennan
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« Reply #35 on: August 04, 2011, 11:53:58 PM »

Yeah, this one got me.  More than most stories do, in fact.  I wanted to beat the son's and father's heads in for being so freaking INCONSIDERATE of the mother -- seriously, Dad, not even one word to your son about "how's about you not be such a jackass"?  Things like the cancer were a bit too convenient, I agree, but given my visceral horror at the kid tearing up the tiger, and similarly strong reactions elsewhere in the story, I'm willing to forgive those touches.
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rotheche
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« Reply #36 on: August 10, 2011, 04:44:45 PM »

*sigh*

Driving through traffic telling myself, "Don't cry, damn it, it's just a story..."

That was lovely, beginning to end.

And put me down on the list for living origami when we find someone who can make them.
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LaShawn
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« Reply #37 on: August 29, 2011, 03:44:57 PM »

Dang...I...dang. My work productivity slumped to zero when I heard this. And there was tears. Dude. Duuuuuuude....

Interestingly, while listening to this, I didn't think so much on my own mixed race son, who is still at the age where race is not so strong a factor in his development (although he is noticing that girls are different--yikes!), but I thought more to my own mother, who I don't have as strong a relationship with. This story piled the guilt on thick. THICK, I tells ya! It's a good thing that my husband wasn't like the one in the story, though I also felt sorry for him. The father in the story reminds me a lot of people who adopt children from other countries, and then become surprised when those children wish to go back to those countries to explore their roots.

And thanks, Daaaaave, for the ending comments. Now I gotta go call my mother. ::sniffles::
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Listener
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« Reply #38 on: August 30, 2011, 08:47:42 AM »

I'm a cynical bastard, I guess.  It was a nice story, but I found it a little too overt in its attempts to pluck my heartstrings.  It just lunged right in with both fists; didn't even buy me a drink first.

On the other hand, I do tend to dislike direct sentimentality in general.  Here, Mom's letter was just... it was like getting hassled by an emotional panhandler.  "Give me some wistful tears or I'll cough on you!"  Ah, well.  The living origami was fun.  I enjoyed how it was central to the story without being the point of the story. 

Pretty much my opinion.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2011, 09:24:13 AM »

Time to call my Mom.
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All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
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