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We Grow Old: Fifty-Three Chinese Love Poems

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  • Posted February 3, 2011

    Lost in translation? HORRIBLE!!

    I bought this book for my sister's wedding - she is marrying a Chinese man, and I thought it would be nice to have a Chinese love poem to read at the ceremony. These poems are HORRIBLE!! I don't know if something was lost in translation from Chinese to English (it seems so) but most of the poems are not even about love, they are just daily observations or journal entries - one is about suicide and one even mentions a 'f**king cat toy'...very romantic!

    At best, this book made me laugh at its absurdity, so now it will become a gag gift for my sister...wish I had not bought it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2008

    Promises Kept

    Yu-Han Chao was one of the most exciting discoveries in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award program with her edgy, hilarious, and brilliantly written entry A BOWL OF THE REAL THING. Now she steps solidly onto the platform of published authors with a superb book of prose/poems WE GROW OLD: Fifty-Three Chinese Love Poems. Taiwan- born Chao takes the best from both cultures as she admixes Chinese manners and views with Western embellishments and the result is a well-designed, handsome book of seemingly straight forward 'love poems' that hold more meaning than first readings might suggest. Each page of this book contains one poem (where 'poem' could be defined as the essence of a thought molded into language that is succinct, focused and free of extraneous narration). How a writer of such a young age can understand the journey to growing old so well is yet another indication of the keen observational skills of Chao. Her subjects are reflections on her father and her love for him, changes in physical appearance that are respected instead of mocked, thoughts on her Caucasian boyfriend's cultural differences, plants and their care, animals and their idiosyncrasies, family, friends, awkward situations - all moments in the cycle of life that are personal to the author, yes, but more importantly are also completely universal. Out of the many poems, an example of some of the shorter ones may encourage readers to obtain this collection: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD When we're old, let's sit in wicker chairs, one next to the other, by an old brick wall. We can watch cars go by, children play, dogs bark, leaves fall. We'll have all the time in the world. To ourselves, for each other, for the world. QUIETUDE I like the grace of the elderly Buddhist women in the temple. Not the regular temple women on a public bus who chatter noisily and complain about their families on their way to a Taoist ceremony, but the quiet, meditative hoary-headed women with beads little scriptures, and some- times black robes in a Buddhist temple. Something about their quietude promises that they are wonderful listeners, understanding mothers, kind grandmothers and wise, graceful great-grandmothers. Yu-Han Chao is a humanist. We know from her previous chapters that she is capable of riotously funny situational comedy. Here we discover her gentle and wise spirit exploring the arena of the elderly as one young and sensitive enough to bring these observations to our attention. This is little book to cherish and love. Highly recommended. Grady Harp

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