This book was given to me by a good friend who knew that I had an interest inAsia. I chose to read it because it was a true story and was told that it was agood read. The author travels to China as an English teacher for the HunanMedical School. There he stayed for two years picking up many anecdotes alongthe way. The author already had spent a large amount of his life studyingChinese language and the martial arts.
However, when he arrives in China hemeets teachers who have dedicated their entire lives to perfecting a particularart or skill, whether it be martial arts or calligraphy. Mark Salzman wasperfecting his calligraphy skills and as weeks had passed he began to makeprogress. He was getting tired of the models and wanted to try something new. When he told Hai Bin,(his teacher), he frowned and said,”Some people spendtheir entire lives researching a single model.Order now
You should be willing to spend ayear on this one. ” This is an example of the dedication and perseverance thesemen have towards their chosen artform or skill. Another example of this theme,was Marks Wushu teacher, Pan, who punched a fifty pound plate of steel up toten thousand times a day. Marks relentless practicing of the many forms ofWushu was influenced by Pan. Salzman also showed that there was greatoppression.
The people of China were under constant surveillance and control. Rarely were they able to make important decisions for themselves. It was sad tosee that in a country with so many people there was so little freedom. Thegovernment controlled everything from the railroad to the Rat Collection Officeto whether families and friends could mourn for lost loved-ones. Mark found thisway of life troublesome yet he had stay strong and focused for his calligraphyand martial arts.
Mark Salzmans Iron and Silk did a wonderful job ofillustrating the people of China. He brought to life a corner of the world thatwe would rarely be able to see, outside of picture books. His representation isa very personal one, taking you beyond the scenery and into the action andheartache. Throughout this book, Salzman expertly reveals the personality andspirit of the Chinese people. He does this with his own type of special imagery. He drops in enough key details and leaves the rest to your imagination.
Thiscaused me to pay close attention to what was going on. His style of writingmakes you feel like you are right there beside him, participating in each of hismany escapades. I was influenced by the dedication his teachers had for theirchosen artform and will remind myself to use that dedication and perseverance inmy long-term goals. Mark Salzmans purpose was to take you to China andintroduce you to the people he had met on his journey.
He had published thisbook only two years after he had gone to China. He desperately wanted to sharean outsiders look into China and what influences were in his life. Mark wrote sofluidly that it was person to person. Anyone can pick up this book and be anobserver in the memories of the author.
I found that my reading skills vary likea roller coaster. I had days when I found my reading to be very choppy and I hadto remind myself to see the words in the book as speech and not words in abook,(if that makes any sense). My vocabulary was up to par and the book was aneasy read. I began to use my speed reading techniques without discomfort nearthe last few chapters in the book.