Wednesday 14 November 2012

SHORTS ON SHORTS - 'The Paper Menagerie' - Ken Liu

Well, I hope you enjoyed yesterday's post. Today's is going to be a bit tricky to write about. And that's because it's so bloody good. And by good, I mean don't-even-think-about-reading-this-one-on-public-transport-for-fear-of-bawling-your-eyes-out-and-scaring-a-few-people good. Yes, THAT good.

Ken LiuI first read about it when Flannery over at The Readventurer listed it as a must-read in her International Short Story Day post. And me, like the fool that I am, didn't read it STRAIGHT AWAY (which I hope you will do after reading this). And it comes complete with accolades a-plenty - The Paper Menagerie was the first short story ever to win the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. You can find out a little bit more about Ken Liu right here, and here's the oh-so-essential link where you can read and weep..

In a nutshell...

A young man with a Chinese mother and American father reflects on his upbringing and his complicated relationship with his mother, a former mail-order bride.

My favourite quote...

Blimey, where do I begin? Even typing this out is making me well up again..

Mom looked at him. "If I say 'love', I feel here." She pointed to her lips. "If I say 'ai', I feel here." She put her hand over her heart.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg, people.

Bits and pieces I'll take away...

This really is a reminder of how powerful writing can be in this form and how vital every sentence, every word really is. I don't really know what else to say, apart from if you think that reading short story just won't give you the full-on emotional whack that a novel will, that reading a short story just won't have as much of an impact, that it will be forgotten as soon as you've finished that last line, then you really need to read this.

Seriously, READ IT.

Wowsers. Well, I hope that tomorrow's story can keep up the standard....


  1. I loved this story, so beautiful. I never seem to get around to reviewing it because it's one of those stories I just can't find the right words for..

    1. That's exactly why I decided to do a 'short' feature - it's an excuse not to write a proper review! I don't think I'd know where to start with this one. Such an amazing piece of writing.

  2. I'm so happy I reminded you the other day and that you did it. Seriously, it still baffles me how moving and amazing this story was and how the hell Liu fit so much into something so short.

    1. And I am so happy that you reminded me too Flann!Seriously, I have not read anything this moving in a long, long time