Thursday, December 6, 2012

Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas Liu

Genre:  Adult Short Stories

Description (taken from Goodreads):
What would you do if you found out your girlfriend laid an egg every time she had sex? Who would you be if you were invited to a party in Beijing but had to make up a brand-new identity for six weeks? Peter Tieryas Liu's Watering Heaven is a travelogue of and requiem for the American dream in all its bizarre manifestations and a surreal, fantastic journey through the streets, alleys, and airports of China. Whether it's a monk who uses acupuncture needles to help him fly or a city filled with rats about to be exterminated so that the mayor can win his reelection bid, be prepared to laugh, swoon, and shudder at the answers Liu offers in this provocative debut collection.

This book is a collection of bizarre short stories.  Some of them don't make sense, but they do seem to have a common theme about our dreams of being happy or doing the right things in life.  I kind of want to equate this book with going into an art museum and looking at the beautiful paintings all while thinking, "I don't get it."  It's art and a lot of people are going to pull different meanings out of the stories, sometimes different than what the author intended.  So if I butcher it with some of my thoughts, you'll have to go read it and tell me where you disagree with me.

Like I said, the stories are a little bizarre and weird.  We have egg-laying girlfriends, a couple that creates their own rules for basketball, a Franz Kafka-like story, and a fight to protect the rats (which I 'd totally not be on this side of the fight).  It seems all of the stories center around what's worth living for.  We are lonely creatures that need to know and love people.  And we shouldn't be too busy to enjoy our friends and listen to the small things in life.

There were two things that stood out for me.  One was how odd it was that the one company that most of the people worked at wasn't a very good company.  It's like they're all working towards the common goal of living the American dream except when they're at work.  The company that they work for is totally against the American dream, and it was interesting to see how some people just stood by and let it happen while others tried to fight it.  Secondly, there's a story where a lady is in love with the guy's fingers and wants to take a mold of them.  Bizarre on the surface, I know.  But since I have weird fingers (affected by amniotic band syndrome), I am someone who notices people's hands immediately after I look at their face (sometimes before).  So it stuck out for me.

Favorite quote:
     "What are you thinking about?" she asked.
     I told her everything.  Concluded by saying, "You love my fingers, but I hate your eyes."
     "Because they found me when I wanted to be lost."
          ~ Watering Heaven, p 84

This is a book I would tell someone to carry around with them in their bag and pick it up when they have a spare second.  Read a story at a time, don't try to read the whole thing at once.  It's written art and sometimes you'll be left either questioning things, amazed, or a little confused.

Thanks goes to Peter Tieryas Liu for providing me a review copy.

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