Who thought I'd ever make it into a Chinese language newspaper? This is a write-up by We Chinese, the local weekly in San Diego, of my author talk last week. At least, that's what I hope it is.
Now that I'm back at the ranch, piles of stuff to do reproach me. Piles of laundry to be washed, stacks of newspapers to be read, not to mention the book-length lists of changes to be made to my novel-in-progress. I'm sometimes tempted to toss my reading backlog, which is consistently 3 months long. I tell myself: that news couldn't possibly be relevant anymore.
Instead, I find a review of Devil's Bargain in the Financial Times (July 22-23). Do you remember? This was the book that hailed Steve Bannon as a modern Svengali and allegedly infuriated his tool, Donald Trump, so much that he threw Bannon out of the White House. Lo and behold 3 months later Bannon says that he still talks to Trump "every two or three days" (though the White House denies this).
Then there's the cover of The New Yorker (July 24) showing Trump Sr. leading Trump Jr. by the ear. The latter had just been caught lying about a meeting in which dirt would be offered on Hillary Clinton. It was played down at the time as a random, one-off event. Now we learn that George Papadopoulos took a similar meeting but no worries. He's a nobody, tweets Trump.
Or as the French would say: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).
That's part of the thinking behind the labor camp where the third volume of my Shanghai Quartet will be set. The Chinese criminal justice system doesn't seem to have evolved much from the bad old days when Stalin's gulag looked like a good idea. Laogai is the Chinese term used for this vast network of prison camps, the topic of this week's blog post and will someday also become the title of my third novel.
But I'm not there yet. It's back to the salt mines for me.