As far as demons go, Miss White and Miss Green were pretty good. They tried their best to do good deeds and consume as few humans as possible. It was hard work, being a nice demon, but they both really tried. Epic battles and romance await in this irreverent novella retelling of the classic Chinese story, part of The Zodiac Schmodiac Story Cycle, 1st Course: Kung Pao Flavored Short Stories. This novella is part of the Zodiac Schmodiac story cycle, a group of short stories based on the Chinese Zodiac. Remember the paper placemats with zodiac animals from your favorite Chinese buffet? The things it tells you are wildly inaccurate and probably have no resemblance whatsoever to your life or situation, but reading them is fun and writing these stories was too. (This story, of course, is the snake in the Zodiac cycle.) Ever since I began living in Asia I have loved traditional festivals and the stories that go along with them. One of the most interesting is told at the Duanwu (Dragonboat) Festival. Ask 10 Chinese people for the story of “The Legend of White Snake” and you’ll get 10 or more different versions, all of them wonderful and strange in their own way. Although getting a definitive version isn’t easy, the basic story is easy to grasp. There are two demons, White Snake and Green Snake (who can both turn into human form), a man named Xu Xian who is beguiled by them, and a monk named Fahai who tries to save Xu Xian from the demons. There is usually a tower involved. Green Snake tries to save White Snake from Fahai. Fahai may or may not be successful in saving Xu Xian from the demons. Xu Xian may or may not want to be saved. It is either a love story or a tragedy, it depends on the version you get. When I began writing this story I wanted it to take a different tack—wacky from the start. I didn’t intend to write a novella, this was only supposed to be a short story, but once I got into I couldn’t stop. If you have ever read the original story you may be disappointed by some of the things you see here. When my wife heard that there were jackalopes she didn’t think it was very funny or very Chinesey. (But there are and it is funny, at least to me.) When my mom read it she rolled her eyes at all of the wine that Fahai consumes. Could I make the poor monk into any shallower of a person? After all, Jet Li is playing Fahai’s part in the new movie being made in China. Couldn’t he have been a bit more noble? I guess not, because this Fahai jumped of the page in this form from the very start. My wife also thought that all of the ‘faht’ jokes weren’t very funny, and they didn’t even make sense in Chinese. (Jokes about Fahai’s name. She’s right, they don’t make any sense in Chinese.) Luckily for me this book is in English, and I hope you’ll get the spirit of the ‘fahtiness’ as it was intended: wackiness. There are few deep moral lessons in here, just lots of vaguely Chinese jokes, but I hope you’ll enjoy it.
About Adam Tervort
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Published September 15, 2011
by Qilin Press.
Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction.