Author: Susan Jane Gilman
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date: Feb 8, 2012
Paperback, 320 pages
Barnes and Noble
Here is where I wonder what type of review to write as I didn't necessarily enjoy this book, but at the same time I found it incredibly enlightening. Do I tell that I am left with so many questions regarding this endeavor of Susan's that it frustrates me? If I was her, I would need more closure. Will she be writing a sequel? I sure hope so because it kills me to not only to not know what really took place, but to be left without answers too. It is justifiably crazy talk.
This book is the prime example of why I chose not to have roommates after I divorced. People are plain crazy and you really don't know how cookoo til you live with them. And by then, what are you going to do kick them out on their arses and leave them to fend for themselves? Not me. I am a bit too kind-hearted for that. Damn it.
Susan starts her book out by explaining she has changed the names to protect the innocent. Blah, blah, blah whatever, so does everyone else. Uhm no, about halfway through the book I realize she without a doubt should have changed their names.
Not only is she all the way around the world in a country she doesn't speak the language, but she is a bit new to new world experiences. Yes, Susan grew up a bit rougher than most so she is used to living a tougher life, but when her roommate starts spending time by herself to do "counter intelligence work," saying things like "there are people here to protect us" and other such nonsense Susan isn't quite sure what to make of the stranger that was once her acquaintance. Susan is feeling her own anxiety of being alone, away from everything she has known especially the comfort of identifiable food, bathrooms with doors and toilets. Now her only friend has abandoned her to crazy-ville.
There were many parts in this book that kept me turning pages to try and get past the ever present giant WHAT?! that surrounded this book. And even when I finished it I didn't feel sated, but it was still an incredible read making me glad I wasn't there, but more so that Susan wrote this book for me to experience it.
That being said, Susan please find an investigator and track down your friend to find out WTH happened bc I gotta know!!! Susan has such a wonderfully creative way of telling her story that I was truly riveted even when I was trying not to gag. I truly enjoyed her take on the everyday living of the oriental culture with things like public restrooms being big holes the ground women went in to squat above. The fact that rice is a palate cleanser served at the end of the meal rather than during. The cultural differences were amazing.
And not that anyone asked me, but since it is my review . . . . I prefer the following cover over the one above. A small bummer when purchasing an ebook, they don't let me choose the cover I like.
Summary -They were young, brilliant, and bold. They set out to conquer the world. But the world had other plans for them.
Bestselling author Susan Jane Gilman's new memoir is a hilarious and harrowing journey, a modern heart of darkness filled with Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes.
In 1986, fresh out of college, Gilman and her friend Claire yearned to do something daring and original that did not involve getting a job. Inspired by a place mat at the International House of Pancakes, they decided to embark on an ambitious trip around the globe, starting in the People's Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent travelers for roughly ten minutes.
Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche, an astrological love guide, and an arsenal of bravado, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads. As they ventured off the map deep into Chinese territory, they were stripped of everything familiar and forced to confront their limitations amid culture shock and government surveillance. What began as a journey full of humor, eroticism, and enlightenment grew increasingly sinister-becoming a real-life international thriller that transformed them forever.
Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is a flat-out page-turner, an astonishing true story of hubris and redemption told with Gilman's trademark compassion, lyricism, and wit.