Joyless House Book Reviews

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Broken Uterus by Cai Gentan

forthcoming from Terror House Press

Translated by Xi Nan

There are benefits to dedicating your life to the hopeless arts. Don't let anyone tell you different. Sometimes, just when you think the drudgery of the Long Boring March will finally wear you down, when the unbreakably voracious vapidity of your fellow country-people threatens to chase you down a hole, the mysterious agents of international outlaw literature come a-knocking. It pleases me to announce that your faithful & humble Editor in Cheese has been afforded the opportunity to cast his randy red orbs on another forbidden text.

Cai Gentan is a poet from Hainan Island, China. Xi Nan is a furiously active poet, novelist and translator. Terror House Press is a bastion of free speech and literary provocation. This is the sublime triumvirate that brings you Broken Uterus... or will, sometime in January 2021.

Well, God bless & good for me. This is some of the meatiest poetry on which I ever done gorged my frantic Yankee attention span. These verses are hyper-sexualized. They are preoccupied with prostitutes, crapulence, and the ever-present pall of 20th century tyranny. If sparse Chinese poetry can be Pynchonian, this is it. Appearances by the KGB, CIA and nuclear missiles wrench the author from traditional reflections on the lotus, the waterfall or the ancient dynasties. On one page Cai Gentan is pondering bemused the dogged transfer of generations; on the next he is drunkenly threatening the local police with a giant rubber dildo. And always the good Chairman Mao. Whether leering out from the banknotes stuck to a banging headboard or looming like a poisonous cloud over sprawling factory towns, old Runzhi,  that pig-eyed secular god is ever present.

This is a fascinating collection. Broken Uterus manages to be melancholy, beautifully sublime, wickedly irreverent and wildly entertaining all at the same time. It pays dutiful homage to the ambiguous spirit of an ancient land while injecting the element of brutal slapstick that has characterized China for the past 71 years.


Personally, I will read everything that Cai Gentan launches over to this side of the world. But if you're not yet convinced, how 'bout a couple of these titles:

Darling, I'm Putting in Extra Efforts to Build an Aircraft-Carrier

or if that doesn't quite grab you, how about:

Darling, Tonight my Testicles are in a Stable Mood

Fucking amazing. If Eric Clapton ever wants to jazz up one of his crappy love songs, I know a Chinese poet & idea man I can put him in touch with.

Broken Uterus closes with a long chapter presented as the daydream of a patient in Hainan Hospital. It is a doozy. I don't want to give too much away, but here is a taste:

Comrade Wang Deming had cancer in his right kidney, which must be removed. After the operation, when he woke up from the coma, the first sentence he shouted was: Long live Chairman Mao! His first requirement was to read Chairman Mao’s book.

After reading, I thought it was very funny.
But I just laughed for a while, then I couldn't laugh.

Wang Deming sweet poontang. I say buy this book as soon as preorders open.