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A Long Stay in a Distant Land | [Chieh Chieng]

A Long Stay in a Distant Land

The Lums are cursed. Ever since Grandpa Melvin was inspired to join the U.S. army after watching a Popeye movie and, as family lore has it, unleashed a "relentless rain of steel death" upon the Nazis, Lum after Lum has been doomed to an untimely demise, be it by tainted cheeseburger or speeding ice-cream truck. The most recent victim is Louis Lum's mother, struck down by a medical student asleep at the wheel.
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Publisher's Summary

Chieh Chieng's hilarious and inventive first novel traces three generations of a death-stalked Chinese-American family in Orange County, California.

The Lums are cursed. Ever since Grandpa Melvin was inspired to join the U.S. army after watching a Popeye movie and, as family lore has it, unleashed a "relentless rain of steel death" upon the Nazis, Lum after Lum has been doomed to an untimely demise, be it by tainted cheeseburger or speeding ice-cream truck. The most recent victim is Louis Lum's mother, struck down by a medical student asleep at the wheel. Now Louis, a 20-something fact checker at a hot-rod magazine, must move back home with his gangsta rap-obsessed father, Sonny, to prevent him from enacting the revenge he promises.

But soon Louis finds himself more concerned with another wayward family member, his uncle Bo Lum, who has disappeared in Hong Kong after many years of self-imposed exile. After the annual family meeting at Grandma Esther's house, Louis decides to leave his father to go to Hong Kong and find Bo, his grandmother's favorite son. As Louis's search progresses, the tragicomic story of three generations of Lums in America is revealed through the eyes of Louis, Sonny, and Grandma Esther.

A novel about the unexpected ways love and myth work to both sustain and threaten family ties, A Long Stay in a Distant Land introduces a wry and original new voice in American fiction.

©2005 Chieh Chieng; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"Charmingly eccentric and refreshingly unstereotypical." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a dazzling debut: poignant, prickly, and deliciously absurd." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.3 (50 )
5 star
 (9)
4 star
 (12)
3 star
 (18)
2 star
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3.5 (10 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Story
4.0 (10 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Terri Long Branch, NJ, USA 06-03-05
    Terri Long Branch, NJ, USA 06-03-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Hard To Follow"

    This is no doubt a much different story when read than listened to. For one, without a family tree chart or chapter headings to glance up at there was some trouble figuring out who was who and when was when, as the story jumped back and forth in time and across generations and from relative to relative. Confusing.

    The narrator was not altogether unpleasant, although his elderly voices, either male OR female, did tend to sound similar, almost sterotypical.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Long Branch, NJ, USA 01-28-06
    Alan Long Branch, NJ, USA 01-28-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    64
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Of Just a Little More Than Passing Interest"

    My reviews are usually based on time and dollar value. This was a book worth listening to but I hope it might have been better. I was glad it was a short listen, which is to say, right after listening to it I felt it was barely worth the one book credit it cost me. It didn't grab me in a way that I couldn't wait to get some quiet iPOD time so I could get to listening to it again. But I'm glad I waited a month or so to put down this review. My memories of it are good. The story was interesting, even poignant at times. I do remember having a problem trying to remember (figure out) which character was who and when, but now that time has evened out those puzzlements, I can say that the general mood the book left me with was a wholehearted one. The central "characters" all worked through what they needed to work through. They felt their life's resolutions were workable. Less angst and more understanding. Something we need more of in late 20th early 21st century fiction.

    You may wish to try it. But give it a good, solid 10 minute sample reading first.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eva Gannon Chicago, Illinois, US 10-29-08
    Eva Gannon Chicago, Illinois, US 10-29-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    502
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    330
    88
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    39
    5
    Overall
    "A Long Stay In a Boring Book"

    Only got about half way through this audiobook. The characters are unappealing. I couldn't stand Sonny and his love for cockroach-infested apartments. His wife was a wuss who allowed him to trample on her. His mother was stereotyped.

    The plot (if there is one) is disjointed in addition to being convoluted. It's hard to keep track of the characters and what they're doing, and why.

    After about 3.5 hours, I gave it up. I don't like to leave a book unfinished and don't often do so, so I may go back to this one day. In the meantime, I removed it from my iPod, it's not worthy of the space.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ming Highland Village, TX, USA 04-03-08
    Ming Highland Village, TX, USA 04-03-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "It's just ok"

    It is probably one of the books that should be for reading, not listening. The reader is totally boring. I find the story 'too cute' as the author contrives to deliver the plot.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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