Sha Li at 5th Annual Literary Festival

“It’s not enough that you’ve been a tough champion of the people and rooted out gobs of corruption.  You have to tell them what you’ve done.  And video.  Really powerful stuff.  Can we use any of the bust video from Xi’an?”

The really powerful video from Lianyungang has already filtered through the selection committee.  Mai doesn’t know it, but the tee-shirt contest clip has made the rounds.  HUANG paid 1,000 yuan to the karaoke host for a copy of the video made by the sleazy entrepreneur.  He knew it was a matter of time before it would circulate farther.

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Behind the Scenes Snapshots: Wounds of Attraction

In Rick’s Narcotics Anonymous group, he met a woman about his age.  She was a nurse in a local hospital who became over-familiar with the pill dispensary.  She lost her job and her credentials.  Mary Jo Thompson was divorced with two children in middle school.  She shared custody with her ex-husband who worked for the City of Santa Rosa.  After meetings, Rick and Mary Jo started having lunch together at Taco Bell.  Soon, it became a regular part of their daily routine:  finding enough things to fill the hours to mute the cravings.  Mary Jo listened to Rick’s crazy sounding ramblings about secret agents and his wife’s travels.  Rick listened to her domestic stories.  

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Sebastopol, California

Sebastopol

Born Maia Perizzolo, she shortened her name to Mai legally when she married Rick. Classic Gen-X’er, she was born in 1972 to hippie parents enrolled at Cal Berkeley who then migrated with the back-to-the-land movement to the Northern California idyll of Sonoma County. She grew up in a geodesic dome her parents built from recycled beams and hand-hewed redwood, with solar-powered lights and a composting toilet. The commune was a short drive from Sebastopol up Highway 12 in the Redwoods, called New World Utopia. It attracted dreamy idealists from the city who wanted to get in touch with their inner wa—harmony and peacewith the help of a little LSD, plenty of pot, a couple of hot tubs, and free love. 

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What do people say?

Mai packages her first report, which inadvertently includes forbidden keywords, and hits the print command. She had been careful not to search on the permanently disallowed three Ts: Taiwan, Tibet, and Tian’anmen Square. But an article mentioning Beijing University had popped up several days after the controversial announcement that Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned Chinese dissident, had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unbeknownst to her, Nobel Prize had become a forbidden keyword phrase, and she triggers a violation.

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Wounds of Attachment

Looking out the windows at the office or from the flat, the view was the same:  tall buildings in the distance smothered in a gray shroud, all familiar features hidden from view.  It's a dismal, freezing morning like all the rest when an email from her lands in his inbox.  Eagerly, he read each line and ran her JPEGs through a personal slide show, making Beijing seem less cold and nasty.  The city gradually emptied; the feeling of loneliness was almost unbearable.  People queued up for train tickets, cars mobbed the airport lanes.  Finally, it's his turn to leave the city.

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