Friday, March 2, 2007


This blog is the confluence of two concerns: my curiosity and the speaker's wish to leave a record of her life for the nieces and nephews.

Every week we get together for pastry and soda and talk about the past, as her husband occasionally throws in a comment or two.

Then, the next morning, I wake up and try to remember what she said.

Obviously, I'm not a professional historian -while her family, although privileged, will probably never appear in history books -- but I have become a fan of popular Asian literature -- and somehow her family's story -- of success and impending catastrophe -- feels like an update to "Dream of Red Chamber".

As we begin, I'm not sure how long this story will run -- it's so much fun, I hope, just like the above novel, that it will never end.

(note: the characters that illustrate each chapter have been lifted from The National Palace Museum in Taipei. They are all from the great Sung calligraphers of the 11th Century -- included in a exhibit in early 2007.
Hopefully, this website will still be active whenever you read this -- but if not -- I've done a little cut-and-paste job here )


w said...

Very excited about this. How long it will go on, doesn't matter--- just please go on. Thanks.

chris miller said...

Thankyou for your interest, W.
(knowing now that professional writers may be reading this -- I am going to have to work even harder!)

How long will it go on ?

Well, there's seven weekly sessions in the can right now -- and her dad's not even in prison yet -- so maybe I can stretch this out for six months or more.

And I'm noticing that even as the story moves forward, we're continually bouncing backward for more details.

So as long as she wants to talk -- and I want to listen -- it could go on forever !

w said...

Backward---yes, of course. Storytelling is a wonderfully tricky feat, full of surprises.

May I ask, then, if you are writing her story according to the order of events that she's describing, or are you exercising a bit of authorial right to move back and forward in the narrative?

I'll stop with this one question, else I may ask you to reveal too much, and I wonder if you'd rather allow the reader to simply enjoy the story as it appears bit by bit.

Oh, and I'm not a professional writer by any means. Just a writer of fiction who's interested in oral history and in how the pursuers of oral history interpret it all. It's fascinating stuff, this process, and your project is just the thing to lift the spirits.

chris miller said...

Mostly I present it as she gives it -- because, of course, it's not just about the past -- it's about her as she remembers it.

But recently, I have been clipping certain details and saving them for later entries (when I know they'll get expanded)

BTW -- I have hard time believing that you're not a professional writer -- unless we'd also keep
Cáo Xuěqín and Lady Murasaki off that list.

Robert said...

I am reading it chris! Interesting.

NYE said...

I will be reading this religiously..but was also going to tell you my latest discovery of a fantastic Chinese writer who write story in English, and did it with to smuch beauty, pain, and candidness. Her name is Yiyun Li and her book is "1000 years' of Good Prayers", chances are, you probably have read it already, my heart was touched and pained for reading her words, and I expect only the same of reading yours here.

chris miller said...

Thankyou, Red, I hope you won't be disappointed!

When this project is done, I'll be reading "Wild Swans" and "1000 years" and whatever else seems to cover the same territory.