Living with Uncertainty

Living with Uncertainty

This book is one of the first ethnographies written on the life of farmers in rural Southern Vietnam since the economic reform in the 1980s. It investigates how social, economic and political factors affect the farmers' life in the Mekong Delta in the late socialist era with a particularly focus on the family, which serves as the basic and most significant social unit for the farmers. Dealing with classical anthropological topics of kinship and family, the book examines them as dynamic institutions. With vivid illustrations of the village life, family farming, education of children, jobs outside of farming and everyday politics, it presents new and different pictures of the current Vietnamese family under rapid social changes.The book will contribute to the current ethnographical research in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and also be of particular interest to those working on society and culture in the geographical region from broader disciplines. It will also appeal to readers who are interested in such topics as late socialism, social transformation, and rural development.

Postcards From Surfers

Penguin Specials

Postcards From Surfers

A short shot of brilliant storytelling one of the most celebrated modern Australian short stories is now available to read by itself, wherever you are. A young woman from Melbourne visits her parents, and Auntie Lorna, in Surfers Paradise. As she stays with them, and writes postcard after postcard home, she thinks back on relationships that have shaped her. Helen Garner's collection Postcards from Surfers heralded a new generation of Australian writing, and her beautifully detailed, honest and evocative prose is on perfect display in this the title story.

Only Child

Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing Up Solo

Only Child

Only children don’t have to share bedrooms, toys, or the backseat of a car. They don’t have to share allowances, inheritances, or their parents’ attention. But when they get into trouble, they can’t just blame their imaginary friends. In Only Child, twenty-one acclaimed writers tell the truth about life without siblings—the bliss of solitude, the ache of loneliness, and everything in between. In this unprecedented collection, writers like Judith Thurman, Kathryn Harrison, John Hodgman, and Peter Ho Davies reflect on the single, transforming episode that defined each of them as an only child. For some it came while lurking around the edges of a friend’s boisterous family, longing to be part of the chaos. For others, it came in sterile hospital halls, while single-handedly caring for a parent with cancer. They write about the parents who raised them, from the devoted to the dismissive. They describe what it’s like to be an only child of divorce, an only because of the death of a sibling, an only who reveled in it or an only who didn’t. In candid, poignant, and often hilarious essays, these authors—including the children of Erica Jong, Alice Walker, and Phyllis Rose—explore a lifetime of onliness. As adults searching for partners, they are faced with the unique challenge of trying to turn a longtime trio into a quartet. In deciding whether to give junior a sib, they weigh the benefits of producing the friend they never had against the fear that they will not know how to divide their love and attention among multiples. As they watch their parents age, they come face-to-face with the onus of being their family’s sole historian. Whether you’re an only child curious about how your experiences compare to others’, the partner or spouse of an only, a parent pondering whether to stop at one, or someone with siblings who’s always wondered how the other half lives, Only Child offers a look behind the scenes and into the hearts of twenty-one smart and sensitive writers as they reveal the truth about growing up—and being a grown-up—solo. From the Hardcover edition.

We who Live Apart

Stories

We who Live Apart

In We Who Live Apart, Joan Connor returns to the dark New England of her earlier collection and the wry characters who inhabit it: a hunter who has spent too much time listening to the woods, a ferryman whose emotional seclusion leads to a doomed longing for a summer girl, a carnival diviner whose cards foretell her desertion, a corpse who, out of sheer meanness, will not stay below ground. Although childlessness, divorce, and alcoholism are recurrent motifs that underscore the estrangement of many characters, the moods of the stories are rarely bleak. Humor figures in often, as do elements of the folktale and the supernatural. Despite the stylistic variety in these stories, there is a shared vision of isolation in which characters, wittingly and unwittingly, ensure their separateness and even come to treasure it. As the narrator says in "The Anecdote of the Island," "After a year of debate, it conduces to this: I watch you leave as you once watched me. Our cars separate at the base of a hill. You diminish to a speck in my rearview mirror. When I look for you, I stare into my own eyes looking for you. And I begin to think that what you want is not love but the hope for love. Its remoteness. Its shadow self. You linger in dark places." Indeed, many of these characters linger in dark places, but without giving in to despair. In "October," a recovering alcoholic surprises herself and begins to risk the beginnings of reconnection. And in "Women's Problems," a character coping with the loss of her lover, and then her mother, manages to transmute loss to gain with the triumphant realization that she has become her mother and that, indeed, "Worse things could happen." For these characters, their apartness is as often a choice as a consequence, but the choice has a consequence. When Bluebeard's wife escapes her murderous husband and her fairy-tale narrative in "Bluebeard's First Wife," she finds that "Ordinariness sat upon [her] shoulders like a weather-eroded gargoyle." Whether these characters isolate themselves or find themselves isolated by nets of personal and communal history, they move to wisdom rather than despondency. Connor displays a keen ear for language and a mastery of prose rhythms and dialogue. Her writing, which is often lyrical in the best sense, amply repays the effort of rereading and reflection, and the variety of narrative techniques sustains the reader's interest.