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Susan八年级校园生活(27)--惊艳的山谷(少儿不宜的书)

 

惊艳的山谷

 

Susan 小哭译

 

在我读谭恩美写的《惊艳的山谷》一书前,我认为这本书可能是一本相当枯燥的历史虚幻故事,所以我根本就不想读。我也不知道自己为什么有那种感觉,我绝对没有理由不喜欢这本书,但那就发生了。你可能会想,我读过那么多的书,应该更明白不要根据书皮来评判一本书的道理。呵呵。几乎将这书读了两遍之后,我现在已经快速地把它提升到了我第二喜欢的书了。

 

*警告,下面段落有剧透*

 

《惊艳的山谷》是关于一个叫做维奥莱特(又译“紫儿”)的小女孩的生活,书中涵盖了她生命中的四十多年,从她出生到四十一岁。维奥莱特曾经是一个在上海开办高级歌妓院的美国女人的享有特权的女儿(第六段还有更多介绍)。后来,随着清朝灭亡和新的共和国的建立,形势的变化将维奥莱特与她的妈妈分开了,她自己不得不过上了歌妓的生活。经历过与她的第一个客人也是爱人的一段心碎的情感后,她从错误中吸取了教训,成为了一名非常受欢迎的歌妓。当她与一个叫做爱德华的美国男人结婚后,日子开始好了起来。他们有了一个女儿,并且维奥莱特最后脱离了歌妓的生活模式。然而,几年后,爱德华死于西班牙流感,维奥莱特的女儿被爱德华的家庭给带走了。经过了又一段短期的歌妓生活后,维奥莱特与一个学者结了婚。这个学者原来是一个有精神疾病的虐待狂,维奥莱特不得不从他的村庄中逃走。无处可去的她,最后想办法回到了上海。在那儿,维奥莱特的生活总算是安定了下来。二十八岁那年,她回到了第一个爱人和朋友暨方王爷的身边,并在他的公司里谋到了一份工作。后来,他们结婚了。在方王爷的帮助下,她最后找到了妈妈,接着又找到了女儿。而此时,她四十一岁。故事在此就结束了,籍着她与方王爷之间美满的婚姻,她与母亲和女儿之间的麻烦终于解决了。

 

《惊艳的山谷》一书非常长,这应毫不奇怪,因为它含盖了一个非常有趣儿的女孩的四十年的非常有趣的生活。书中也有96页关于维奥莱特母亲的生活。如同生活本身一样,这本书无法预测;还是如同生活本身一样,这本书是一部情感过山车。我从来没有读过这样的一本书,让我有着这么多种不同的强烈情感。

 

这本书的魅力超出了我对其的预期,特别是还这么长。一些评论家认为书太长了,但是我不在乎。读这589页书我一点也不觉得枯燥。《惊艳的山谷》让我在读书的过程中觉得我和维奥莱特就生活在一起,这很了不起。在读的过程中我被她的生活、她的爱情和她的辩论所吸引,但是随着时间的推移,维奥莱特学会了放手,我也从她那儿学会了放手。在我读这本书的几个小时之内,我真的觉得自己成长了四十岁,经历了所有维奥莱特所经历过的事情。因为我只有几个小时的时间去消化维奥莱特四十年所经历的所有这些信息和情感,读完后我深受震撼。

 

当我回头再读时,又是一次全新的经历。第一次读的时候,开始我用七岁孩子的眼睛在读,然后十五岁的,接着一直在用着维奥莱特的年龄在读。当我回头读第二遍时,则是用一个已经经历过书中提到的每一件事儿的长大后的维奥莱特的眼睛在读了。所以,相对于被故事情节所吸引住的第一次,第二次读的时候,我是带着一个有着童年记忆的女人的偏爱在读。我能理解很多维奥莱特在那时所不懂的事情,我还认识到了她的错误。再读这本书所带来的惊喜是我突然间理解了她的妈妈。与我第一次读时相比,现在我对她的看法是如此地不同。

 

《惊艳的山谷》教了我很多有关高级妓院的事情。由于维奥莱特不时地因为曾是歌妓而被别人侮辱,因此在这一点上我变得很保护她。歌妓不是多数人以为的那样。与歌妓最接近的同意词应该是卖淫女,但是歌妓和现在的卖淫女根本不一样。一个男人不能只是走近她们花上几个钱儿就可以获得性服务。相反,这个男人不得不追求她们几个月,与她们一起喝茶,送她们礼物,最后,要求成为她的资助人。然后,要签一个合同,说明这个男人将会包养他们多长时间(通常一个季或二个)。在这段时间内,这个男人要不断地给歌妓送礼物和金钱。整个过程优雅并有技巧。一个歌妓必须得精通诱惑与假象的技巧才能成功。还有,不象多数人以为的那样,她们并非邪恶与操纵的。维奥莱特是一个非常可敬与善良的人,她的歌妓朋友们也是如此。她们没有人主动选择这种生活方式。我以前认为歌妓或卖淫女很“脏”或很“贪婪”,看来我对她们有很多误解。阅读有关歌妓院的内部运作方式是一件有趣儿的事儿。

 

这本书有一些性描写(好吧,不是一些,是很多),但那很容易理解,要知道主人公的一半生活是在妓院里度过的。书中也有爱情故事,那使得每一件事儿都更令人激动。当然,对于谭恩美来说,她还写了一个复杂的母女关系(事实上,两个)。总体来说,我认为这是一本关于一个女人去寻找她自己、去了解她实际上是谁的旅程的书。她是谁呢?嗯,在这本书中,维奥莱特有很多个角色,其中包含一个不服管的孩子、一个受欢迎的歌妓、一个快乐的妻子、一个母亲、一个女儿,还有更多。自从与她母亲分开后她改变了这么多。我是如此地惊讶于一个人一生中可以发生这么多的事儿。有时我会想如果她的妈妈没有离开、或者如果没有遇到这个人、或者如果没有发生这件事的话会如何,结果应该会大大地不同。我很高兴每一件事情最后都转到了应有的方向。我不为维奥莱特所经历过的那些困难高兴,但是过去就是过去了。最终,她有了一个有意义的生活和幸福的结局,让发生过的每一件事儿都值得。

 

即使结局很幸福,也不如我期待的那么好,有点太慢了并且平淡无奇。然而,那符合维奥莱特做为一个中年女人在经历了四十年戏剧人生之后、最后能够安顿下来的形象。我真的为她高兴。虽然我确实怀念她与爱德华结婚时的那些好日子,但方王爷也没什么不好,自始至终我确实也都在支持他。总体来讲,结局不怎么出彩,但也足够好了。我听到一些评论家说这个令人失望的结局毁了全本书,可我不这样认为。我还是非常地喜欢这本书。

 

我读到许多评论家说《惊艳的山谷》与谭恩美的其它作品太相似了。对于她的一些长期粉丝来说,这书读起来很无聊。因为我从来没有读过她的其它作品,对此我无话可说。我猜想一旦我去读她的其它作品,可能我会觉得它们与这一本太想像了。我一般不读这种里面压根就没有魔法、吸血鬼和龙什么的书,不读如此写实并且与真实生活如此紧密相联的书。然而,这本书正在说服我去阅读多一点写实小说。没有任何魔法的故事实际上也能够相当地好看,真实生活中的浪漫故事与吸血鬼的一样有趣儿。

 

我非常喜欢《惊艳的山谷》,愿意将它推荐给任何不怕读一本600页长书的读者。然而,我不推荐这本书给小孩子,因为里面有许多他们无法理解的事情(再说小孩子怎么会去读一本600页的书呢?)。我认为阅读这本书帮助我成长了不少,知道了童话故事与哈里.波特之类魔法世界之外的生活到底是什么样的。从现在起我肯定还会去读更多的谭恩美所写的书!

 

 

 

【小哭介绍背景】这篇小文让我想写的东西太多了,只能选部分来写了。我现在还记得与这篇文章相关的几个小细节中,最令我心跳加速的是,我一边读着这篇读后感,一边做着最坏的猜想,这本书到底写了什么、而Susan她到底看到了什么、又因此想到了什么?我怎么这么大意,竟然将这样的内容带进了她的阅读领域。随着她后面的叙述,很显然,她并没有看轻维奥莱特,在她眼里维奥莱特和仅仅出卖肉体的卖淫女不同。同时她还提到她眼里的维奥莱特身上诸多与性无关的身份——小孩、女儿、母亲、安于居家生活的妻子等等,嗯,看来这书并没有将她带到“坏”的方向。读到最后,Susan竟然说她通过第二次阅读,更好地理解了这本书,这本书让她成长,让她重新审视阅读的体裁,这?这也太令我意外了!(参考她对同性恋的理解,其实我不应如此意外)

 

拓展她的阅读面这件事儿,我可是一天到晚都在动脑筋啊。我一直在想着有什么办法能够让她明白,写实的书其实非常地好看、并且更能让人从中获得生活中所需要的信息和道理呢?结果竟然是这样的一本书敲开了这道难启的门!!我真的不知道如何评说这事儿了。读到此,我的内疚感基本上没剩多少了。至于后面,Susan说她愿意向读者推荐这本书,但不包括小孩子:)我笑了,我知道,我的担心多余了。Susan阅读此书的心态,远非她的实际年纪——13岁,她已经达到了16-18岁的心态了。当然,当然,我还是为自己让她这么早就接触到了这类书有很多的不安,反正再等几年会更好。

 

读完这篇读后感后,我控制不住地想和什么人分享一下看法,我想自己当时处于一种相当地激动与紧张不安之中。因为知道一时半会儿不会翻译这篇文章,还因为知道这书的特殊性,所以,我突然间发现,自己身边并没有什么朋友可以和我一起讨论这个话题。最后,我还是又给百忙中的昭君发了邮件。我当时确实有点急于去拿到可靠朋友的反馈意见,看看自己是否要做点什么补救的事情。结果昭君的回信极大地安慰了我那颗焦虑的心:“我再次惊讶于 Susan写作中表现出来的成熟心智!这本书照理说对她这样年纪的女孩是不太合适的,但难得的是她从中得到的启迪和成长,这也是我们做家长的难以预料和控制的地方吧。我有什么理由批评你呢,只能说,enjoy the very moment of the process,和孩子一起成长吧。”

 

还有,借书那天的细节,我也记得非常地清楚。那天,我带着Susan和小宝进到图书馆,她就带小宝下到地下层去看他们感兴趣的东西了,而我则留在一楼碟片处看看有什么好看的DVD没有。等到他们拿了一堆书上来告诉我可以准备走了时,我们就一起去电脑那边办理借书手续。就在走向自助借书处的过程中,最后一本进入我的眼帘的书吸引了我的注意力。那个书架是新书推荐处,每一本新书都占据着稍大的空间,书呈半打开状态,书皮色彩很靓丽,一个女人只露了半张脸,红唇特别地显眼;而中式的衣领在大绿的颜色中点缀着小花,让人觉得妩媚漂亮又不失优雅端装,我拿起一看是谭恩美的书就豪不犹豫地就把这书顺便借回家了。当时我并没有细想这书到底是我看还是给Susan看,不过Susan当场就表态她不看这书!嗯,我自己看好了。最后这书怎么又被Susan看到了,我就不清楚了。她一天到晚再忙,都会抽出时间来阅读的,估计是她手上没有什么好书的时候随手拿过去看的吧。

 

话说谭恩美,我们来美国的第一年,就从Susan那个得了子宫癌的ESL老师MM(这个老师的抗癌故事现在还是进行时,我一直在帮她宣讲)那里听说了。当时她就说,希望热爱写作的Susan有一天会成为谭恩美一样的华裔作家。后来我在橡树园学英语时,我的志愿者老师J找来的第一本书又是她的书,说是这样的书可能对我来说更容易读,那时老师和我一句一句地读了不少页呢。一边纠正我的发音,一边讨论不同文化背景下的母女关系。当时我们经常拿我与Susan的关系对照书中的关系,偶尔在家里我也会跟Susan谈起谭恩美的妈妈强迫她学习钢琴的细节及后果。就在我翻译这篇小文的过程中,竟然不可思议地收到了MM老师提到了谭恩美的邮件,其中一句话是关于Susan的写作的“She is the next Amy Tan-I am convinced. Meaning she is the one and only Susan Cao, but perhaps a famous Chinese/American writer like Amy Tan! (我确信她是下一个谭恩美。我是说,她是Susan并且是唯一的Susan,但是,可能她会成为一个象谭恩美一样著名的华裔作家。)”看看 ,谭恩美在这些普通美国人心目中的地位还是相当高的。希望有朝一日Susan会用她的笔写出如谭恩美一般受人欢迎的文字来吧。

 

 

 

附上英文原文:

 

The Valley of Amazement

 

Before I read Amy Tan’s book, The Valley of Amazement, I thought it was going to be a really boring historical fiction story. I did not want to read it at all. I don’t know why I felt that way, I had absolutely no reason to dislike the book, but I did. You would think, after reading so many books, I would know better than to judge them by their covers. After reading it almost two times now, I have just promoted this book as my second favorite book ever.

 

*big spoiler alert in the next paragraph*

 

The Valley of Amazement was about the life of a girl, Violet, and covered more than four decades of a her life, starting from before she was born to until she was forty-one. Violet used to be the privileged daughter of an American woman who ran Shanghai’s most exclusive courtesan house*(more on those in paragraph 6). Then, as the Ching dynasty was overturned and the new Republic established, a turn of events separated Violet from her mother and forced her to live the courtesan lifestyle herself. After suffering a heartbreak from her first patron and lover, she rose from her mistakes and became a very popular courtesan. Things were going really well when she married an American guy, Edward, gave birth to a girl, and finally left the courtesan lifestyle. However, a few years later, Edward died from the Spanish Influenza, and Violet’s child was taken away by Edward’s family. After a short time as a courtesan again, she got married to a scholar. This scholar turned out to be an abusive man who had mental problems, and Violet had to escape from his village out in nowhere and find a way to get back to Shanghai. There, Violet’s life finally calmed down. At age twenty-eight, she went back to her first lover and friend, Loyalty Fang, and got a job at his company. Later, they married, and through him, she finally reached her mother, and then her daughter. By then, she was forty-one. And that was when the story ended, with her happily married to Loyalty, and the troubles between her mother, her, and her daughter finally settled.

 

The Valley of Amazement was very long, not surprising since it covered forty very interesting years of a very interesting girl’s life. It also included 96 pages about Violet’s mother’s life. Just like life, the book was unpredictable, and just like life, it was an emotional rollercoaster. I have never read a book that made me feel so many different emotions so strongly.

 

This book exceeded my expectations on how captivating it was, especially for such a long book. Some critics thought it was too long, but I didn’t mind. I was never bored throughout its 589 pages. The Valley of Amazement was amazing in the way it made me feel like I was living Violet’s life as I read the book. I was caught up in her life, in her romances and arguments as I read them, but as time passed and Violet learned to let go, I learned to let go with her. I really felt like I aged forty year and experienced all that Violet experienced in the few hours it took me to read the book. And since I only had a few hours to digest all the information and emotions that took Violet a forty years to process, I felt like I was in shock after I finished reading.

 

When I went back to read it again, it was a whole new experienced. The first time I read it, I read the pages with the eyes of a seven year old, then a fifteen year old, and then whatever age Violet was in. When I went back and read it the second time, it was with the eyes of a grown-up Violet who has already experienced everything metioned in the pages of the book. So, instead of getting caught up in the story, the second time I read the book, I read it with the fondness of a woman remembering her childhood. I understood a lot of things that Violet didn’t understand back then, and I recognized her mistakes. A suprising thing about reading the book a second time was the sudden understanding I felt for her mother. I think of her so differently now, compared the when I first read about her.

 

The Valley of Amazement taught me a lot about courtesan houses. Because Violet often got insulted by others about how she used to be a courtesan, I have grown to be very protective of that part of her. A courtesan is not what most people think. The best synonym of it would be prostitute, but a courtesan is nothing like an average modern prostitute. A guy can’t just walk up to them and get sex for a few bucks. Instead, the guy has to court them for months, having tea with them, give them gifts, and finally, ask to become her patron. Then, there would be a contract stating how long the guy would get to have the girl for (ususally a season or two), during which the guy will continuously bombard the courtesan with gifts and money. There’s an elegance and art to the whole thing. A courtesan has to be really skilled in the art of seduction and illusion to become successful. And, unlike most people think, they’re not immoral or manipulative. Violet is a very honorable and kind person, and so are her courtesan friends. None of them chose their lifestyle. I use to think of courtesans or prostitutes and the like as “dirty” or “greedy”. Turns out that I misjudged them, a lot. It was interesting to read about the inner workings of a courtesan house.

 

There was some sex in this book (okay, not just some, a lot), but that’s only to be expected when half of the main character’s life was spent in a courtesan house. There was romance too, and that was what made everything more exciting. And of course, being Amy Tan, there was a complicated mother-daughter relationship (actually, there were two). Overall, I think this was a book about a woman’s journey to find herself, to discover who she really is. And who is she? Well, Violet was many things throughout the book, including a bratty kid, a popular courtesan, a happy wife, a mother, a daughter, and a lot more. She changed so much since she was separated from her mother. I was surprised so much could happen to a person in one lifetime. Sometimes, I wonder what would’ve happened if her mother had not left, or if had not meet this person, or if this thing had not happened. The results would’ve been drastically different. I’m glad that everything turned out the way it did. I’m not glad for the troubles Violet went through, but the past is the past, and ultimately, she had a meaningful life and a happy ending, which made everything worth it.

 

Even though the ending was happy, it wasn’t as good as I had expected. It was a bit too slow and undramatic. Howerever, that fitted the image of Violet as a middle-aged woman finally able to settle down after a forty years of drama. I feel really happy for her. Although I do miss the old days when she was married to Edward, Loyalty isn’t so bad. I had actually been rooting for him all along. Overall, the ending wasn’t amazing, but it was good enough. I’ve heard some critics say the dissapointing ending ruined the book. I don’t think so. I still like the book a lot.

 

I’ve read lots of criticism saying The Valley of Amazement was too similar to Amy Tan’s other works. For some of her long-timed fans, it was a bit boring to read. Since I’ve never read her other works, I can’t say anything about that. I guess once I read her other works, I might find them too similar to this one. I usually don’t read books that are this realistic and this connected to real life, with no magic or vampires or dragons at all. However, this one is convincing me to read more realistic fiction. A story can actually be quiet good without any magic, and real-life romances are as interesting as vampire ones.

 

I enjoyed The Valley of Amazement very much, and I would recommend it to anyonewho are not scared of reading a six-hundred paged book. I would not recommend this to kids, though, since there are a lot of things in their they might not understand (why would a child want to read a six-hundred page book anyway?). I think reading this book helped me grow up a little, and learned about what life is really like outside of fairy tales and Harry Potter-like worlds. I’m definitely going to read more Amy Tan books from now on!

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评论

雨林的头像
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我也相信Susan 会是又一个谭恩美。做有天才的孩子的父母不容易啊!

 
周小哭的头像
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谢谢雨林的一直支持!

这几天我在调研电子书的取材一事儿,没少遭遇沷冷水:(从这一点上来讲,要做一个不谓人言、支持孩子的妈妈也不容易。最后是一个在英国、一个在德国的朋友的支持让我决定一定要做下去。

最后我就想,我不是服务于全人类,用不着指望每一个人都支持。“士为知已者死,女为悦已者容”,我只为有需要的人群服务就足够了。

 
春山如笑的头像
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读过几本谭恩美的小说, 的确都有些相似呵呵, 你女儿的书评写得很仔细, 没读书已经知道内容了。祝她的电子书很快成功

 
周小哭的头像
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谢谢春山。我写这篇文章的背景介绍时,看了一些网上的书评,觉得Susan还是没有完全理解作者的全部意图,不过她的收获已经很大了:)电子书正在过程中,前些年她写了太多的东西了,一年几百篇,整理出来真辛苦。其实我以前整理过,比如上学前,她写的东西WORD文件就有150页,从中只能挑出几页来,这个挑选的任务太重了。简直是把以前的生活一天一天地重新回忆一遍:)好在这些都是幸福中的小苦恼:)

 
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