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A Delightful Armchair Adventure
Larry's Kidney by Daniel Asa Rose

04/26/09

  12:04:00 am, by Airycat   , 562 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Biography, Memoir

A Delightful Armchair Adventure
Larry's Kidney by Daniel Asa Rose

I was hooked with the first line, "Huwwo?" Larry's Kidney, by Daniel Asa Rose, is indeed an "adventure of a lifetime (really) -- a madcap odyssey of the heart (and kidney) in the most exotic country on earth," as the back cover proclaims.

Larry is something else. Rose shows him as funny, exasperating, morose, kind hearted, unyielding, dictatorial, and expansive by turns, a moody man who is nonetheless charming and hard not to like. I believe that Rose shows Larry as he sees him, but he makes it clear in the book that he has a vivid imagination, so I'm not entirely sure Larry is exactly the man we're shown. Still, I think Larry would be someone interesting to meet, though I'd make sure not to cross him.

I loved the way Rose shows the people of China, very much as I might expect to see them myself -- quite confusing at first, then not as a people (plural), but as individual people, who still might be confusing due to language and cultural differences, yet people with whom it's possible to interact. I felt I was there with them as I read. (The fact that I was playing Chinese pop music as I read probably helped this a little.) And, though I don't go looking for it intentionally in what I read, I'm always delighted to see an example of my world vision* in reality, in the world today. For all his and Larry's cavalier naivety, before he returned home he saw (was made to see) some of the harsher realities and he still chose to remember the kindnesses bestowed upon him and Larry, to believe goodness was indeed goodness. Nobody ends up being a bad guy here. It's just that everyone sees things differently.

Rose's style reads/sounds as if he's there telling the story in person. I could hear his voice, so much so that when I later visited his website and heard him speak, I "recognized" it. It was exactly as I expected. I get a distinct picture in my head of Larry, but somehow, it didn't quite match the photo on the back cover. I think that's because a photo is still and we need to see Larry animated. I do take issue with Rose's description of Mary. Did he say she was fat?** I can't remember exactly, but he certainly gave the impression that she is. However, the pictures on his website show that she definitely is not fat. (I should be so "fat!") But, then, there is the Author's Note stating that he had to change some facts of the story to protect those who helped him and Larry, so maybe there is a bit of embellishment here and there to make every part an interesting story. Who knows? Who cares? If he says it's true, I believe the basic facts are true. It's just that he's not a "damn, dim bulb," writing a dull diary of facts. He wrote a story we want to keep reading.

 

*I see a world where all people accept each other as friends and neighbors and celebrate each person's uniqueness as a vital part of everyone's life, like threads in a tapestry. ~F. Shafer Junaid

** "a giant cleaning lady" "a larger figure than I expected" (p. 23 of my ARC)

PS: Since Clint Eastwood is too old for the role, I nominate Billy Bob Thornton to play Larry.

Larry's Kidney

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I see a world where all people accept each other as friends and neighbors, and celebrate each person's uniqueness as a vital part of everyone's life, like threads in a tapestry. -F. Shafer Junaid

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