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[794] Intersection 對倒 – Yi-Chang Liu 劉以鬯


Intersection tells of the way in which two characters’ lives, strangers to each other, appear to intersect in ways apparently determined by the nature of the city—Hong Kong in the early 1970s, when inflation was out of the roof and crimes were rife. The two parallel stories unfold on a day, when the teenage Ah Xing and the middle-age Chun Yu-bai eventually cross path at the movie theater. Everything about them—age, sex, station in life, the direction of the walk, and financial status—is the opposite. Everything the young craves has been achieved by the mature, but the mature is not necessarily pleased with his life. Whereas the girl wants a rich, handsome husband, the mature has been divorced. The young lives in a rickety old building not too far from a stinky public toilet. The mature, a transplant from Shanghai after the Sino-Japanese War, bought a few flats with his little fortune. Chun is living on the rents he collects while Ah Xing resents working in the factory. They have encountered the same incidents and people on the streets, but in reverse order as they are coming to the theater from different directions.

Over the course of the day, the happenings and scenes of the city provoke in Chun and Ah Xing stream-of-consciousness that is completely different. Chun bathes in reminiscence of the past, in particular the bygone age of his youth in Shanghai before the war. For Chun happiness only exists in his memory. Subjected to the same vistas but evoked a different psycho is Ah Xing, a vain, narcissistic girl who dreams of becoming a movie star and of marrying a rich, handsome man. She is enthusiastically appealing to the future as Chun is assiduously reminiscing the past.

During the time of constant change, “present” is almost very short-lived. What Chun and Ah Xing see and hear on the streets quickly transport them into the realm of their thoughts and imaginations, away from the present. This impermanence is evoked by the Joyce-like progress of Ah Xing and Chun, whose peripatetic meanderings through the city invoke thoughts about Bruce Lee, war, politics, inflation, and the overpopulation of Hong Kong. They each project their desire onto music, films, street scenes—objects of their obsession that displace them from reality. The narrative is interwoven with reality, consciousness, memory, and even imagination, which alternately take over their mentality.

330 pp. Holdery Publishing. Paper, in Chinese Language [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]