Full of unforgettable figures and an unrelenting spirit of adventure, Strange Stones is a far-ranging, thought-provoking collection of Peter Hessler’s best reportage - a dazzling display of the powerful storytelling, shrewd cultural insight, and warm sense of humor that are the trademarks of his work.
Over the last decade, as a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three books, Peter Hessler has lived in Asia and the United States, writing as both native and knowledgeable outsider in these two very different regions. This unusual perspective distinguishes Strange Stones, which showcases Hessler’s unmatched range as a storyteller. “Wild Flavor” invites listeners along on a taste test between two rat restaurants in South China. One story profiles Yao Ming, basketball star and China’s most beloved export, another David Spindler, an obsessive and passionate historian of the Great Wall. In “Dr. Don”, Hessler writes movingly about a small-town pharmacist and his relationship with the people he serves.
While Hessler’s subjects and locations vary, subtle but deeply important thematic links bind these pieces - the strength of local traditions, the surprising overlap between apparently opposing cultures, and the powerful lessons drawn from individuals who straddle different worlds.
I played this while driving with others, thinking it would have the broadest appeal. In that it was very successful. However, when one loves an author, one tends to devour his or her work and I found I'd heard most of these stories already in shorter forms in The New Yorker.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
This series of experiences shared in one book are a very enjoyable way to learn about China and some of the Chinese people encountered at a time when there is a great change in their country.
The narration is Fantastic! because George Backman speaks the Chinese names in Chinese, so it is a fascinating listen to hear a sentence start off in English, break into the Chinese name pronounced authentically, and resume in English.
Peter Hessler lived in China many years, speaks the language, and lived in neighborhoods where he was the only foreigner. His experiences with neighbors, businesses, authorities, and with other non-Chinese people living, working or studying in China are really interesting and sometimes funny and poignant.
The book also includes his move back to the US west, and readjustment to American society and people. Which is also an interesting point of view and also a bit humorous.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I love the topics he writes about. It feels as though he's sitting at my dinner table telling me about his travels and experiences in a relaxed way.
Entertaining and educational, especially if you have an interest in Chinese history. The author spent seven years in China. With a somewhat dry sense of humor, he tells stories of his interactions with the locals.
A good reflection from an experienced expat. His reflections keep your eyes open to the essence of being Chinese and being American.
These stories were very entertaining although a little eclectic. They gave some interesting insights into the Chinese culture. The narrator was very irritating, almost enough to make us stop listening. After persevering we got used to the narrator I would not get another book read by him.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Where does Strange Stones rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Its full of good stories, the reading was too slow and distracting. By speeding up the reading speed to 1.25 the listening improved by 100%. I was tempted to stop listening until I tried the speed up trick.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful