Aug 29

Donald Gallinger: “Memoirs of China”

Written by dewang on Saturday, August 29th, 2009 at 7:27 am
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Donald Gallinger was an English high school teacher in New Jersey who spent September 2004 through July 2005 in China with his wife. He kept a meticulous journal which is the basis for his “Memoirs of China.”  Imagine an intelligent and eloquent American from the Midwest who has no exposure to China is suddenly plucked from his home and planted inside China.  This was essentially the case with Gallinger.  He is genuinely interested in learning everything that is China.  His memoir is a fun read.  I highly recommend following the link above.  Here, I took the liberty of copying one of his entries:

“There was no poetry”


On the street in front of my apartment building the other night, I was approached by a young Chinese woman. She spoke to me—in Chinese, of course—and, being the polite guy that I am, I said, “Ni hui bu hui shuo ying yu?” (“Do you speak English?”) She spoke again. Eager to try out my pathetic few words of Mandarin, I said, “Wo shi mei guo ren,” or “I am an American,” to which the young woman promptly put her hand on my crotch and said, “massage?” Of course, I jumped about a mile in the air, not used to strange women fondling my genitals in the street. I said, “Oh, no, no,” shaking my head and probably acting like an embarrassed Wally Cleaver. A moment later she was accosting another Western gent. Apparently, there was no poetry involved in our brief encounter.

He has made a lot of observations about China. What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

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5 Responses to “Donald Gallinger: “Memoirs of China””

  1. Chloe Says:

    I know Gallinger very well. The interesting thing is that he is also an author, and his fiction is very, very AMERICAN, in both story and style. His “Americanness” may contribute to the unique way he writes about China. Here’s what I mean:

    I’ve always found that foreign visitors to my country have insights I never would have made myself, and it’s always interesting to see my home through their eyes. (I imagine I do the same for other people when I visit their countries? I hope so, anyway.) Well, I usually find the comments of my ASIAN friends and acquaintances the most interesting, and have always suspected this is because the American and Asian world views are so very different. We make each other stretch our thinking the most, I mean. Anyway, that’s a thought that has occurred to me more than once. I wonder if anyone else agrees?

    (BTW, Gallinger’s fiction is fabulous. I recommend it to anyone.)

  2. hongkonger Says:

    Thank you huaren for posting this. I enjoyed very much reading his blog.

  3. huaren Says:

    Thx for that additional info on Gallinger, Chloe. I enjoyed his writing style as well.

    You are welcome hongkonger. We are here to share.

  4. Steve Says:

    @ huaren: I’ve only read a part of his blog but I intend to read all of it. Oh, being that I’m originally from Jersey, I must tell you that it is NOT in the Midwest, ha ha! However, South Jersey is very different from North Jersey so don’t think the Sopranos.

    Thanks, Chloe, for your comment. I’ve put Gallinger on my reading list. It’ll be fun comparing his experience to mine, though I was there a few years before he was.

  5. huaren Says:

    Hi Steve, #4,

    Haha, yes, I’ve been to New Jersey. You are right, “Midwest” definitely doesn’t include it. But I think you know what I was trying to say. 🙂

    Btw, it’d be interesting to hear your take on his memoir.

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