Saturday, September 20, 2008

Short Story: A Man Like Him by Yiyun Li

I read A Man Like Him by Yiyun Li online in The New Yorker. Yet another short story I read for the Short Story September Challenge. I have already read and loved her collection of short stories, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers.

In this story, Teacher Fei , a sixty four years old retired art teacher lives and looks after his mother who is in her nineties. He is not married the reason for which is not told, at least not in the beginning. In the course of the story we come to know that he is adopted by his mother.

In a magazine, he reads about a girl who is revengful of her father who she thinks had an affair whih resulted in his divorce with her mother. She wants that he should suffer becos of it. Thus she sues him for it. Teaher Fei, is somehow drawn to that father. And initiates a meting with him. Here we learn that he as an art teacher in a school had been accused of inappropriate behaviour with one of his girl students, although it was never proven. He wishes that the father should sue his daughter.

Teacher Fei, according to himself, is no angle. He goes to chatrooms pretending to be someone else.

"A man like him. In the street, Teacher Fei pondered Mrs. Luo’s words. What did that mean—a man like him—a bachelor without a son to carry on his blood, a retired art teacher whose name most of his students had forgotten the moment they graduated from elementary school, a disgraceful old man who purchased fashion magazines at the news-stand and wasted his afternoons alongside teenagers in a cyberworld, making up names and stories and sending out romantic lies? What did he deserve but this aimless walk in a world where the only reason for him to live was so that his mother could die in her own bed?"

The story is filled with suspense. And makes an engrossing read. Yiyun Li does not disappoint at all. In her stories, one gets a glimpse of the communist China. One of the best reasons to read her.


Teddy Rose said...

This sounds like a really good one! I just printed it to read. Thanks!