Tuesday, April 10, 2007
MAO'S LAST DANCER - LI CUNXIN **
Amazon.com says: From a desperately poor village in northeast China, at age eleven, Li Cunxin was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to be taken from his rural home and brought to Beijing, where he would study ballet. In 1979, the young dancer arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, only to fall in love with America-and with an American woman. Two years later, through a series of events worthy of the most exciting cloak-and-dagger fiction, he defected to the United States, where he quickly became known as one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world. This is his story, told in his own inimitable voice. Li Cunxin was born in a village near the city of Qingdao, in northern China. At eighteen, he was selected to perform with the Houston Ballet, leading to his dramatic defection to the United States. Li, who has performed as a principal dancer with the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet, now lives with his wife and their three children.
I say: The 2 stars are purely for the story, not the writing! Before he put his amazing story down on paper, Li should have read Stephen King's book on writing, and followed the always-chop-it-by-a-third-no-matter-how-good-it-is rule! This book was about 100 pages too long, and it also felt a little too sentimental and wishy-washy at times. Li is wracked with guilt over leaving China and his poverty stricken family, but no matter how many pages he throws at us, he's never going to be able to change the past. What's done is done. Get over it, Li. Your family loves you for the success that you've made of yourself, and please... No more books! Stick to ballet.