Tom Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future has just come out in paperback. This distinctive American's-eye-view of China's capital is bracingly cerebral without didacticism, intimate and touching without the slightest trace of "self-realization." I loved it.
Maria Bustillos: There is so much I want to know about your book, and about China. How long has it been since you were last there? How has the book been received? How old is [your son] Mack, [who was born in China], now?
Tom Scocca: We haven't been back since I was doing the epilogue, in May 2010. The book's been received pretty well, I think. Or [...]
Cris Beam left her mother's home at age 14, driven out by a suburban household of hidden chaos and mental illness. The two never saw each other again. More than twenty years later, after building the happy home life she'd never had as a child, Beam learned of her mother's death and embarked on a quest to rediscover her own history. What follows is an excerpt from her nonfiction account, Mother, Stranger, published today by The Atavist. It is available as an ebook single for the Kindle, The Nook, the iPad or iPhone and other outlets via The Atavist website.
When I found out that my [...]
There was a loud but muffled scream, and when I looked up, the kid was gone.
It wasn't that scary for me; I did know where he was, more or less. But this was what I was leaving my wife with, on the other end of the phone:
[Child's screaming.] Fuck! Shit. Uh, I gotta call you back- [Screaming continues in background.] [Call disconnects.]
I was standing by the elevator bank, all by myself. The screaming was coming from the other side of a closed elevator door.
Self-professed recovering video-game addict the RZA (a.k.a. Prince Rakeem, The Abbot, Bobby Digital, Bobby Steels, the RZArector, Ruler Zig-zag-zig Allah, etc.) tells his sons, "If it was up to me… You wanna make me happy? Four hours of video games a day is enough."
The beeping came on as the backdrop to a predawn dream-beep-beep-beep-and then, mhmm, is that the alarm clock?-beep-beep-beep-but too faint, unless we'd dropped our alarm clock under the bed and then dropped a comforter over it-beep-beep-beep-so it was maybe the bus, outside, idling, somehow generating a high-frequency overtone to the rumbling-beep-beep-beep-beep-or was it hrmm just the pulse in my ears-tinnitus, the blood surge-beep-beep-beep-hmrff NO, it was definitely, somewhere, an ALARM CLOCK, but-
About 20 minutes into his nap, the kid started crying. Naptime is usually pretty easy. This business about how little kids don't understand they're tired was always mysterious to me. My parents told me that when I was a toddler, I alarmed them by vanishing, having wandered off all on my own to sack out somewhere quiet with a pillow. Much to my pride and relief, the kid is the same way-if I don't put him down for a nap, he'll climb into bed on his own or flop down on the floor with a blanket. When you're tired, you sleep. What's so hard to understand?