Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: LEAVE ME ALONE by Murong

Leave Me Alone: A Novel of ChengduFrom the back of the book:
Three years after graduation, Cheng Zhong works in a dead-end job as a sales manager for a motor oil company. He remains friends with two former classmates from his university days; Li Lang, who has quit his job and become rich gambling the stock market; and Bighead Wang, who is the head of the local police station.

All have put aside the lofty dreams of their youth in their scramble to strike it rich in the newly capitalist China; 'We lost our minds in the struggle to be first; lost our way because we were crazy for cash.' Despite their aspirations, the trio's lives are mired in drinking, drugs, and whoring, and beset by boredom, disillusion and gambling debts.

My Review:
A contemporary Chinese noir, LEAVE ME ALONE had all the hallmarks of a great book yet it fell short on a number of levels. I'm not sure if something was lost in translation or if the author was a little lose with the writing as the style was jumpy, often switching gears from urbane poetic to grade school in a matter of sentences.

The story of a slowly depreciating young man living a life of deceit and sin who has little sense of self despite the at times overbearing narrative attempting to illustrate the opposite is a constant draw back and contrary to what the novel was to deliver rather than complimentary - in my view.

The lead character starts with a good job, professional prospects, a close knit circle of friends and a loving wife - by the end of LEAVE ME ALONE all this things are little more than words in the wind.

The premise is definitely something I like reading and could be vaguely compared to a Jason Starr white collar noir (without the murder) yet there was always this limitation to the expanses LEAVE ME ALONE could reach.

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