That American Novel About Dry Cleaning…

I couldn’t pass this up. I think I have an idea that might get a fair amount of attention from me in the next few months. Chinese — dry cleaning — poet — reluctant/accidental corporate magnate — what am I missing here?

Information technology. Complex symbols. Conspiracies. Apocalypses. Among other things.

I think I would rather write about a Chinese protagonist than an Indian one. I am fascinated by the Chinese experience. Tens of millions died in this country under the rule of one dictator. When Mao died, the repression almost stopped overnight. There are crazy cultures, and then there’s the Chinese. I mean, WTF? Everything that sucks is entirely the responsibility of just this one crazy guy? There isn’t a cabal? There’s no putsch and no counter-putsch? Mao lives — people die. Mao dies — people live. The zero sumness of this is mind boggling.

What the Chinese endured in the twentieth century, and continue to endure into the twenty first, is a tragedy beyond description.

So my protagonist has to collide with his own history. His chain must take off first in the United States but then expand to Asia, particulary to China. And there he must be drawn into a world that has no recognizably rational boundaries and instruments of causation. Here, he must grapple with imaginations whose excesses exceed the flights of poetry and attempt to decode an environment that to him is simultaneously familiary and foreign.

I think this will have to be some sort of Forrest Gump story. I like the idea that the protagonist is a little clueless.

I will have to figure his name out. There’d have to be a Chinese version. That can come later. He could change it. Multiple times. Others could change it for him.

In America, his name is … Dan. Colby. Carter. Maybe Carter, because he was born during the Carter administration. And his parents thought Jimmy didn’t sound cool enough. Carter… Chang. Li. Not sure about the last name.

Carter’s dry cleaning empire starts when his mother dies in some sort of accident. She has been a major influence in his life, mainly because she’s the only one berating him till then.


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