Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This Book Will Change Your Life - Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas Liu.

Travel read more travel more read and Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas Liu. A question we might ask is what do we think we know about someone based on a photo or image when we do not know the person behind it? Further, what if when looking at said image we also garner some biographical information, but no more than the cursory details we gain when encountering anyone's bio? As opposed to say actually encountering said person? How much of that which we think we know is influenced by our own projections? What we feel about ourselves? What we wish we were, and were not? Or the frames we may possess about authors, gender, nationality, culture, and types of employment? Finally, how much does any of this drive not just our reading of said image, but the actual text of said author's work? We say this, because to encounter Peter Tieryas Liu on paper or online, merely as photo or bio, is to encounter a handsome man, a married man, and published author, someone who looks happy, and works at cool places like LucasArts. He's someone we might want to be, even as we recognize that we are a version of him ourselves, albeit a less handsome version doing slightly less cool things. Yet we read into it, the bio and image, the projections, and wonder; and in that way we become one of his characters ourselves. Because there are also his words, arrayed across the twenty stories in Watering Heaven, and it is these stories where our projections run into a sort of dissonance. The characters in these stories are us, filled with a longing for places and women they cannot make whole, if they can find them at all. Further they are in conflict with their appearance and culture; and they uniformly seem worn down by work, if not life itself. Drinking excessively, sleepless and chasing demons. What to make of all this then, and what to make of the fable-like quality of these stories? The focus on image and appearance as captured through characters who work with images and appearances themselves, both theirs and others. And what of the clash of the modern and traditional? We can write all of this off as fiction, but we wonder about the author's state of mind as we compare his words to what we thought we knew. We also Wonder though what else is to come from the terribly fervent mind of this terribly attractive author who can so easily move from the Great Wall of China to Koreatown karaoke bars in a single leap. And yes, that was a superhero reference, but it seems apt given the mythical qualities of the stories themselves. Stories that just might change your life, if only for a moment at that.

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