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Local Author Will Speak At Library

By Staff | Oct 12, 2011

Former New Martinsville resident Jean Life will share her book, Life In China, at the New Martinsville Public Library on Oct. 26, noon.

What is like to have your husband come home one day and announce that you will be moving to China? Moreover, to the city of Nanyang where you will be the very first American female? Jean Life, a former New Martinsville resident, has written a book on her four-and-a-half-year adventure in a land that few of us have ever even visited. Her tale, appropriately titled Life in China, My Story, is fascinating. Everything from the first official toast of liquor, a turpentine and kerosene concoction, to no traffic rules and headlights being optional on what she affectionately titles “Suicide Highway,” to an apartment that sporadically has hot water and heat to those gray dusty kitchen walls that need a regular wash down due to the outside traffic pollution, the ubiquitous Chinese habit of smoking, and the ever popular charcoal brick cooking stoves.

It gets better. From her apartment “Window on the World” she views a cow being slaughtered and having its belly cut open, then cooked in front of the restaurant across the street. Out her rear window, she watches rats scuttle across the yard, feeding on the contents of the trash bags that a “recycling” guy has emptied and collected to be resold at a recycling plant for a few spare yuan. There is a rooster that crows from a porch opposite every morning at dawn until he ends up in the wok. At first, she dares not go alone down the 60 dirty concrete steps from her flat to the street below because of all the “mass of humanity that is in motion either on foot, bicycle, or in motorized vehicles.” Then there is also the usual assortment of stray dogs, cows, and goats roaming loose. Imagine the nerve-racking cacophony!

Life learns patience and endurance because she truly does love life. As the originally promised two years turned into three and then four-and-a-half, Life learns to adapt to a totally different culture. She learns to love the following: the innocence of the young people which is very different from their American counterparts; the easy laughter of the people; the desire to please foreigners, although their efforts sometimes turn out to be the exact opposite of what the foreigners would have wished; and their appreciation of visitors’ efforts to not only contribute to their society but their willingness to join them in their cultural practices. She learns that the logic of “The Chinese Way,” which is for them the only way to behave properly, can be difficult for a Westerner to understand. She says only those who have a spirit of adventure, a boatload of patience, and an indeterminate amount of adaptability are able to handle the experience of that amazing place that is China. Her book is quite a ride!

Join the Friends of the Library for this special event on Oct. 26 at noon. Light refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome.