Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Review of Go Ask the River by Evelyn Eaton

This book review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, History
Book Club Event = Book List
Intriguing Connections = 1) Tales of Growing Up,

Watch the Review

Elaborate Review


This is a fictionalized account of the life of the poet Hung Tu who lived during the Tang Dynasty.  Containing many of Hung Tu’s poems.  Bearing the heart, soul, and intellect of the poet.  For poets like Hung Tu, are very observant, and cunning in their words.  This is more than just a story as it uses the culture and social organization of China during the time.  The story itself is about the whole turbulent life of Hung Tu.  From how and why the family moved from the capital to the calamity of bandits.  From being sold to a Blue House, to working for governors.  But rewards of the struggles endured are tenuous, with calamity striking again and again.  A poetic portrait of the vicissitude and complexity of life.  The uncertainty of potential outcomes in a variety of decisions.  Hung Tu was brilliant with words, but that was hard to show in a patriarchal society.  But many of the lessons learned facilitated in refining skills in observation and judgement that would be greatly valued in time.  


The transitions between the different times of Hung Tu’s life have poor narrative transitions, making it a bit difficult to read and prevents flow within the narrative.  As this book contains cultural aspects and traditions, many of the cultural traits can be missed without their prior knowledge.  This info would help readers understand the background ideology and decision making.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What are some limitations of the book? 
•What poems interest you?
•What are the religious and philosophical themes in the book? 
•What is the role of scholars in this era?
•What is the role of women in this society? 
•What is a Blue House? 
•Who is Face-from-the-River?
•How do officials behave?
•How does court and status behavior differ from everyday behavior? 
•What changes occur over time?
•Why did Hung Tu’s family leave the capital?
•How is Hung Tu treated in her family? 
•What happens to Hung Tu’s family? 
•How did Hung Tu obtain the skills of a poet?
•How does Tall Bamboo operate the Blue House?
•How did bandits impact life?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780857010759
Pages to read:   261
Publication:     2012
1st Edition:      1969
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          4
Overall           4