The Peril Of Persistence

It’s the peril of persistence. I was brought up on the principle of finishing what you started and now I am suffering the consequence. I can’t go on with this book, but my habit of persistence doesn’t allow me to give up in the middle. What to do?

I can’t stand “The Barbarians Are Coming” anymore and if I read one more page, I’m going to scream–do something with your life, Lung, and stop complaining about your girlfriends (he has two if you don’t count the third) and your parents (from Hong Kong with all the stereotypical Asian traits in more vivid and intimate display). I say this because I know the author died young and I can say this without really hurting him. He writes so well and I feel bad to criticize him, but the plot of this book is so agonizing. Somehow I feel that his girlfriends exist for the sole purpose of plaguing him about marriage and burdening him with offspring, and his immigrant parents live for nothing but to foist on him their bitter frowning, disappointments, rude remarks of prejudice, oily food, unwelcome expectations. And poor Lung can hardly defend himself against all these officious attentions and suffered in silence and depression. I wish I could sympathize him, but somehow I just can’t. I want to sympathize and please give me a reason to sympathize with you. I beg you.

Something else about the plot that bothers me: Lung dislikes his parents’ ways, from conversation, attitude, to food. He has no real connection with the tradition his parents adhere to and tries his best to detach himself from the odd reality he considers his parents live in. If he has such a mentality, how can he respect his father’s dying wish and marry the girl he hardly knows and shares nothing with?

I remember last year, the book “Life Before Man” finally extinguished my enthusiasm and ended my “Atwood Period” which lasted six months or so. It’s a book as agonizing as this one but I finished it in one month. Somehow I had to resort to false imagination that Nate loves Lesje passionately and suicidal-y in order to perk up my strength to go on. Atwood is so much more optimistic when she talked about other types of relationships, like those in Robber Brides for example. Such good stories.

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