Cocktail Talk: Death of a Red Heroine
I’ve had a Death of a Red Heroine Cocktail Talk post, years ago, and a few other Cocktail Talks from Qiu Xiaolong’s Chief Inspector Chen Cao series, which is a fantastic melding of police mysteries, poetry, epicurean delights, and great insights into changing Chinese culture starting in the late 80s, and focusing mainly on Shanghai, but moving around China here and there. They’re very enveloping and involving reads, and Death of a Red Heroine is the very first, and a fine (as you might guess) way to start the series – you’ll want to read them all, in a row. I recently (like I do with books I like lots) re-read it, and now am plowing fast into a few other Inspector Chen’s, too. And, I found another Cocktail Talk-worthy quote in the re-reading, which is both a good hangover note, and a good look into the books in a way, not that it comes from Chen (or his partner, the wonderful Detective Yu, who is a co-star really, with lots of plot coming from his point-of-view), but from a classic Chinese poet, as the books are dotted with quotes. This one is from Liu Yong, from the Song dynasty.
Where shall I find myself
Tonight, waking from the hangover –
The riverbank lined with weeping willows,
The moon sinking, the dawn rising on a breeze.
Year after year, I will be far,
Far away from you.
All the beautiful scenes are unfolding,
But to no avail:
Oh, to whom can I speak
Oh this ever-enchanting landscape?
–Liu Yong, quoted in Death of a Red Heroine, by Qiu Xiaolong