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Publishers Weekly, 2005-10-03 In this genial, absorbing memoir of life in Hong Kong during his civil servant father's three-year (1952-1955) post there, British poet, novelist and popular historian Booth (Opium; Cannabis; Hiroshima Joe; Industry of Souls; etc.) recreates a time of wonder and recollects Chinese culture as absorbed by a fearless seven-to-nine-year-old boy. Booth makes the newness palpable as he evokes his first experiences with the taste of coconut juice, the glow of phosphorescent plankton and a rocky rickshaw ride. While his conservative father shies away from local culture, impromptu expeditions with his intrepid mother lead to a fortune teller, a leper colony and a Buddhist monastery. With innocence, insouciance and something close to a street urchin's freedom, young Booth soaks it up-a monkey ambush, a funeral procession, a typhoon, an opium den in Kowloon's Walled City-all the while stuffing himself at dai pai dong (street food stalls), hanging about the squatters' encampment, learning Chinese and spending time with characters he was warned to avoid-experiences he drew upon in his later work. No matter that the protagonist is a mere nine-year-old at the memoir's conclusion; this is a pitch-perfect, captivating tale for grownups. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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