Dispatches from Crazytown

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am


Dispatches from Crazytown
by Chris McElwain
Amazon Digital Services (e-book)

Yet another English-language teacher has written a book about the experience of living in China. As American Chris McElwain acknowledges, Dispatches from Crazytown is no River Town (Peter Hessler's account of working in Fuling on the Yangtze River). That's an 'actual book'; this consists of blog entries written during the two years from 2005 that McElwain spent with his then girlfriend, now wife, at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xian, Shaanxi province. Everyday occurrences provided the author with content, including the practice of buying bus tickets, which led to the conclusion: 'The line between black marketer and public servant is unsettlingly thin in China.' About the guards outside his university, he says they were typical of the country's approach to visible authority: 'Just enough to make things inconvenient but not enough to actually prevent anyone from doing anything they want to do' ... like censorship of the internet, which he writes is simple to circumvent. McElwain should have used his blog as the basis for a proper book.