River Town Two Years On The Yangtze In the heart of Chia s Sichuan province lies the small city of Fuling Surrounded by the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley Fuling has long been a place of continuity far from the bustling po

  • Title: River Town: Two Years On The Yangtze
  • Author: Peter Hessler
  • ISBN: 9780060953744
  • Page: 250
  • Format: Paperback
  • In the heart of Chia s Sichuan province lies the small city of Fuling Surrounded by the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley, Fuling has long been a place of continuity, far from the bustling political centers of Beijing and Shanghai But now Fuling is heading down a new path, and gradually, along with scores of other towns in this vast and ever evolving country, itIn the heart of Chia s Sichuan province lies the small city of Fuling Surrounded by the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley, Fuling has long been a place of continuity, far from the bustling political centers of Beijing and Shanghai But now Fuling is heading down a new path, and gradually, along with scores of other towns in this vast and ever evolving country, it is becoming a place of change and vitality, tension and reform, disruption and growth As the people of Fuling hold on to the China they know, they are also opening up and struggling to adapt to a world in which their fate is uncertain.Fuling s position at the crossroads came into remarkably sharp focus when Peter Hessler arrived as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1996, marking the first time in than half a century that the city had an American resident He found himself teaching English and American literature at the local college, discovering how Shakespeare and other classics look when seen through the eyes of students who have been raised in the Sichuan countryside and educated in Communist Party doctrine His students, though, are the ones who taught him about the ways of Fuling and about the complex process of understanding that takes place when one is immersed in a radically different society.As he learns the language and comes to know the people, Hessler begins to see that it is indeed a unique moment for Fuling In its past is Communist China s troubled history the struggles of land reform, the decades of misguided economic policies, and the unthinkable damage of the Cultural Revolution and in the future is the Three Gorges Dam, which upon completion will partly flood thecity and force the resettlement of than a million people Making his way in the city and traveling by boat and train throughout Sichuan province and beyond, Hessler offers vivid descriptions of the people he meets, from priests to prostitutes and peasants to professors, and gives voice to their views This is both an intimate personal story of his life in Fuling and a colorful, beautifully written account of the surrounding landscape and its history Imaginative, poignant, funny, and utterly compelling, River Town is an unforgettable portrait of a city that, much like China itself, is seeking to understand both what it was and what it someday will be.

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    One thought on “River Town: Two Years On The Yangtze”

    1. China is bafflingly massive. And that is a bonafide geographical fact people. You can get one of those old fashioned things called a map and have a look. See, I am not wrong. Not only is it massive but the PRC is also the most populous country in the world with a population of over 1.3 billion. How do you even go about counting that many people? How do you get them all to stand still for long enough?Peter Hessler, author of River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze, went to China not to check populat [...]

    2. I read this for my book club and it was unexpectedly difficult for me to get through it. I'm not completely sure why that is since the author's true life experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1996-1998 in Fuling, a remote Chinese village, were interesting and well written. But it was also repetitive and with too many details piled one on top of another, making for dense reading that slowed the book down. That and my incredulous reaction to some of Hessler's negative impressions of the Chin [...]

    3. Interesting and well written, but some sections could have been tightened. The author spent two years (1996-1998) as a Peace Corp volunteer in Fuling, China. It is a remote town located in the Yangtze River Valley, in the heartland of the Sichuan province. He taught English, he learned Chinese and through his own learning, teaching, talking and living with these people he comes to understand what it is to be Chinese. His experience was one of total immersion. What he learned he has shared with u [...]

    4. For those who think this book is incredibly dull, I must say, I don't think it was intended to be a work of entertainment. It often reads like a personal journal, which can be both charming and a chore. If you're patient, I think you'll find it reasonably pleasant to settle in and listen to Peter Hessler tell his story. For those who say that Peter Hessler is a conceited jerk mmm, I don't buy that. He makes observations about how rude and petty many of the Chinese people are, and he also freely [...]

    5. A volunteer for the Peace Corps, Hessler lived in Fuling, a little town in Sichuan province, on the delta of the Yangtze and Wu rivers, for two years teaching English. As one of the few Westerners in the town since World War II, Hessler becomes the focus of not always kind attention in town, but as he learns more Chinese and more of the Chinese way of doing things, he sees his place more clearly and almost, at times, seems to fit into the daily life there. Of course, nearly everything in China i [...]

    6. this was the one of MANY peace corps memoirs i suffered through (reading material choices were limited to our paltry communal bookshelves in the volunteer lounge of the swaziland peace corps office)yway, i used to write a monthly literature review box or our volunteer newsletter, and one month i ranted about this genre. below are my thoughts: Dissecting the Peace Corps MemoirOne of my least favorite genres of nonfiction is hands-down the “peace corps memoir.” I attribute it to both the fact [...]

    7. Since writing this book, Peter Hessler has established himself as one of the premier journalists writing about life in China today. You'll find his pieces in the New Yorker and the Atlantic. River Town is well worth reading. It is an introspective memoir of his first two years of living in somewhat rural China and is also very well written. I met two of Peter Hessler's Peace Corps comrades in 1996 or 1997 in Xishuangbanna. I remember them telling me about their experiences and frustrations worki [...]

    8. Halfway through River Town, I can't help but observe that Pete Hessler was just 27 when he arrived to teach English for the Peace Corp in Fuling, the town on which his memoir/travelogue is based. My favourite books are like this, I can't help but see blurred reflections of myself in them. I wish I'd read Hessler before I went to China for exchange in 2002, but I try to forgive myself the immaturity at that stage; after all I was just 21 then. It seems so old, though, 21, after NS, and compared t [...]

    9. David Sedaris told me to read this book. So I did.At a public reading, Sedaris made a recommendation for, what he called, someone who can actually write. Oh David SedarisI've read Hessler's "New Yorker" articles and love them. So it didn't come as much surprise that this ended up being good. The funny thing, though, is that even though I was familiar with and appreciated the author, I started the book seriously skeptical. I'm not super-patriotic or anything (if I'm anything "super," it would be: [...]

    10. Good: Hessler does a good job of describing the character of the people he meets and the complexity of their lives. Those stories are all interesting, funny and often touching.Bad: Hessler is an arrogant & condescending jerk who thinks he is being sensitive & understanding, but really isn׳t. I give him a discount because he was young & stupid (despite his Oxford education) when he wrote this. Nonetheless I find the book insufferable when he writes about himself which is way too much [...]

    11. Peter Hessler is an observant soul. Here, he shares two years of observation from his stint in China's Sichuan province as a Peace Corps volunteer. Hessler is not there to teach farming or engineering nor to provide medical assistance (which was my erroneous presumption about the Peace Corps). No, he teaches English Literature. He sounds like a wonderful teacher and the interplay with the students was the best part of the book. River Town is full of anecdotes and reads well and informs. But Hess [...]

    12. Sorry, this is too long. I'll try not to do it again!You do need to remember that these events happened 14 years ago in a country that is changing incredibly quickly. Fuling is no longer an isolated city; it is accessible by train, expressway and boat.If you want to know more about China – and who doesn’t – read this book. Me, I have the second Peter Hessler book published in 2006 to read: Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present August 18, 2003 issue of Time Asia with an [...]

    13. Almost nine years to the day after a young Peter Hessler first set foot in Fuling, I floated by that remote city on the first night of a three-day Yangtze river cruise. I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. to catch a glimpse of the place I had been reading about for the past two weeks, so wrapped up had I become in Hessler's story. A vague assemblage of lights appeared and I gazed silently at the town as it gazed silently back. Then, as quickly as it had emerged, it melted into and inky, airless night. I [...]

    14. A good friend recommended this book to me after hearing of my interest in learning more about opportunities for Americans to volunteer in international settings.The story of Peter Hessler’s two year stint (1996-1998?) as a Peace Corps volunteer in Fuling (pop. 200,000) in the Sichuanese hinterlands of China , teaching English at a state-sponsored school to the next generation of Chinese teachers of the English language, reads a bit like a China-based “To Sir with Love.”It may lack some of [...]

    15. I hope to one day meet Peter Hessler and thank him for this book. He writes of his life in Fuling, China, just downriver of Chongqing, where I currently reside. Though he was there in 1997 just before the great opening, the attitudes of the people he met, befriended, and fought with, are still with the people of this region today. Hessler's insight into Southwest China where the language is lispy and the weather hot allowed me to ease into my life here. Teaching in China is a totally new world. [...]

    16. You would think that a memoir written by a Peace Corp volunteer in China 20 years ago would feel outdated. But I found Hessler's experience as a 28 year old teacher in Fuling (1996-98) both fascinating and relevant. I especially liked the parts that focused on Hessler's English literature classes, perhaps because they reminded me of the stories my 28 year old son told me about his experience teaching in Shanghai last summer. Hessler is an excellent writer and I look forward to reading more of hi [...]

    17. I wanted to like this so much…hoping for some excellent writing by a author who contributed to The New Yorker.That is where I discovered Hessler in 2017.Unfortunately Hessler wrote this book soon after college (2006) and it reads like that. I became very bored with the book and ended up skimming 50% of the book. Good news…Hessler’s writing has gotten better but not in this book.3 stars is the most I can offer, and that is because it is a nice day out and I'm in a good mood. If it were rain [...]

    18. There is so much I want to say but I am at a loss other than to say Peter Hessler weaves words that aren't just lyrical, they paint a picture that matches my feelings of living in China--how living here can be overwhelming and frustrating and demoralizing, yet in an instant beautiful, amazing, and extraordinary. In some ways, this story is more than a story of living in China, it is about being an outsider--something that few Westerners truly understand. To be the only one of your kind, to have [...]

    19. Here is a sensitive and succulent, if a bit overlong, account of two years as one of the only two Westerners in a provincial town in Western China. Peter Hessler was one of two Peace Corps volunteers who were the first foreigners to live in the Szechuan town of Fuling in at least 50 years. River Town recounts Hessler’s stay in the mid-1990’s in this town on the Yangtze River, where he and his friend Adam Meier taught English language and literature to students at the local teachers college. [...]

    20. Read at Ava's recommendation for our little book club in China. Really enjoyed this read - a beautiful look at a China that is not dissimilar to the China I've been getting to know, from the eyes of a traveler and literary type who's maybe a little disillusioned with academia.

    21. This was a great book,entertaining and educational. The author did his best to understand his students,the people of the relatively small Chinese city where he taught, and the political climate.It was interesting how uncomfortable he and his friend, Adam, were to be the center of attention every time they ventured onto the streets.I guess he really found out what it is like to be instantly recognizable as an outsider.I think the Chinese were more sympathetic than I thought they would be to an Am [...]

    22. Several people I know have read and raved about this book, it's gotten across-the-board good reviews from respected publications, so I started "River Town" with high expectations. Why, then, do I think this book is so terrible? Mainly I find Hessler's writing style grating and pretentious. He makes sure to mention early on that he went to Princeton and Oxford (and reminds us a couple times afterwards), even though it was totally irrelevant to the narrative, and his descriptions of the Sichuan co [...]

    23. I read this in the days after we settled into our apartment in Chongqing. It was a good timing, because Hessler describes some of the same landscapes and culture in his vivid description of Fuling, not far down the Yangtze river from Chongqing. Some things he described I have been discovering myself as I explore my new neighborhood, and some things have changed dramatically since he was in Fuling in 1995-97. This book serves as useful context and recent history to inform my stay, and it also put [...]

    24. The City of Fuling in China's Sichuan Province was home to Peter Hessler for two years as he undertook his stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1996. Fuling, a small city in comparison to the the usual overcrowded Chinese cities we've read about, is very different. Instead, Hessler calls it the "city of legs" because when "climbing the stairways, you keep your head down and look at the legs of the person in front of you." It's a no-bicycle city because Fuling is a city of steps - squished between [...]

    25. Loved his writing style, and learning about China through his perspective. It was fun to read a fellow Peace Corps volunteer's description of his "service".

    26. This is probably my last Peter Hessler (although I want to read about the Uyghur character in his book "Oracle Bones". Last year I read his book "Country Driving", when I realized that "River Town" was actually his 1st book. In "Country Driving" he came across kind of cocky, however because he is hugely popular in China and his books have high ratings in , I decided to give him another chance. In "River Town" Peter comes across friendlier and likeable, a recent postgraduate, he got a job at the [...]

    27. Common sense would have told me to read this book three years ago before beginning my own Chinese teaching experience, but I didn't. I read it just weeks before my time here ends. If there were ever a testimonial for the value of bringing your own experience to text, then I'm adding mine to that. I understood EVERY single experience and could hear, smell, and taste the rest.

    28. And I figured that if you have to listen to Marxist interpretations of literature, you might as well hear them at a college where the students clean the classrooms.In 1996, Peter Hessler arrived in the river town of Fulan, in the Sichuan province of China. As a Peace Corps volunteer, Hessler had signed on to a two year teaching assignment at a teacher’s college.Hessler’s experiences and wonderful writing style make for excellent narrative non-fiction. Not only is it entertaining, but you are [...]

    29. 399 page hard coverFavorite quotesPage 39It was, as Orwell would say, a case in which words and meaning had parted company. All that mattered was that students used the correct termininology and the correct political framework as they viewed the world around them.Page 45For the first time I came to understand why literataure so often slides away toward politics. I had struggled with this before; at Princeton I had majored in English, and after graduation I had spent two years studying English la [...]

    30. Peter Hessler, a young Peace Corps volunteer, shares his experiences teaching English literature at Fuling Teachers College in Fuling, a remote town in the Yangtze River valley. Hessler chronicles his two years in the classroom, in the community, and in the natural environment in the fashion of a documentary, but with plenty of personality showing through. He illuminates the line that must be carefully walked between teaching and opening doors and minds, versus allowing ones own background and p [...]

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