I picked this up in my library as part of a random assault on the shelves to find people I hadn’t read before. (So far, a rule of thumb seems to be ‘shelves fine, ignore stand on the way in, ignore all free standing round things, round things at end of shelves good, shelf on way out also good. On no account get anything where there are more than 6 things by the same author in one place. This may be another prejudice but I’m still in library rehab, so let me be).
I was quite pleased that coming home all 4 of the authors had 4 or 5 stars on Amazon and at least a couple available on Kindle and at the library, should I like them. However, given I only really want to read on my Kindle now and old fashioned books feel a bit last year (and I can’t knit while I read them!) this book took a little longer than it ought to have done. Amy Tan was further improved in theÂ worth reading standing stakes though, when I found a couple of her books on Helen’s shelves.
The length of time it took me to read Saving Fish From Drowning in no way reflects on how much I enjoyed it. It is another book though where I struggle to think exactly why. The story, narrated by a recently deceased friend and leader of the group, tells the story of a rather naive group of people who take a ‘cultural’ trip to China and Burma and their experiences as the trip teeters precariously around the edges of going very wrong. Perhaps that is a good sentence to sum up the book in fact; it teeters around the edges of exploring the characters, including the life of the narrator, dips its toe into the politics of the regimes in Burma and China, paddles along the edges of rebel causes and the unreality that perhaps builds up in the minds of the desperate and sprinkles flavoursome herbs of understanding about those countries too.
That’s not a bad thing. I’m not desperate to be preached at about the miseries of life elsewhere when I’m ready for bed and this book created an inclination to know more, while a more heavy handed approach might have made me shut the book and shut my mind because I don’t want to know about more awful things. There were some eloquent blendings of beliefs, some clever characters and all the people in the group and the wider world of the book felt real and knowable. I’ll definitely read more Amy Tan; I don’t know if I’d read this one again but I’d certainly add it to my list of ‘things I’m better for having read’.