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Revolutionary Class

A tribute to a father’s love in chaotic times – by Jianguo Wu

 

Ed: 元旦快乐 and a happy 2017 to all readers in the colony! We have some great nonfiction stories lined up for the first months of the new year, like this touching, untold true tale from the Cultural Revolution. If you'd like to see more like it, pleasdonate to keep the hill alive

It was in the early 1970s, during the Cultural Revolution. Meat was very rare at that time; everyone had only half a kilogram of meat ration each month. Even if you had the ration ticket, there was still no guarantee that there was meat to buy with it.

My father worked as a labourer in a steel factory. At lunchtime one day, the factory’s canteen offered a bowl of ‘twice-cooked pork’ (huiguorou) to each worker – extra meat without need for a ration ticket. My father didn’t eat it but kept it in a round metal bowl. In the afternoon when he finished work, he brought it home to share with the whole family – my mother, me and two younger sisters.

For many years, I have wondered how my father brought that bowl of meat back home on his bicycle – a bicycle so old that it was hard to decipher its trademark. It was five kilometres from the factory to his home, on bumpy roads. He had neither plastic bag nor food box, only a round metal bowl without a lid. He held the bowl on the rear bike rack with a cheap clamp. But he managed to ride home without losing a single piece of pork. I have always wondered how.

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Donate to the Anthill this xmas!

Give a little something to keep the colony ticking

 

We've had the 'donate' button up top-right for a while, but never drawn attention to it before. The Anthill, founded four years ago, has always been a labour of love, bringing you nonfiction sketches, fiction, poetry and photography from and of China. I've had less time to give to it of late, busy with my own writing, and we shed a tear to see our fiction editor, Tom Pellman, leave China last week after over 11 years. We're still putting up new stories, but this holiday season are asking for your help.

If you want to see more original writing on here, or just want to say thanks for what we've published to date, please give however much you feel like. This isn't a last-call, it's just a chance for you to give something back if you're feeling generous. All donations will go into a pot which we'll put aside for the site. Ideally we'd love to pay for contributions, and are looking into collaborations that might help that happen. If we get a good response from this, we'll find a way to keep the hill alive next year when the posts in the schedule run out. If not, we'll bow out after a good, long and very enjoyable run.

Festive wishes to all – Alec

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Introducing Spittoon

Ed: A quick post to introduce a new magazine and writers collective in Beijing, before we get back to it at the Anthill. Spittoon just celebrated the launch of their first issue, and their poetry and fiction nights are always a treat. Founded by Matthew Bryne, who edits the mag with Simon Shieh, Kelly McNerney and Chris Warren, we're looking forward to future issues and encourage you all to follow them and submit (details below). In the meantime, they've shared a flash fiction piece and a poem in translation from the first issue with us, below.

 

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Flash fiction by Ben Zarov

 

In the morning writing was easy for her. Words came naturally, crisper, and her sentences vibrated at a higher frequency than her evening writing, which was burdened by the weight of the day’s events (she had ceased to even try anymore). She had a routine that she had stuck to for eight years: begin with a letter to someone, anyone. She wrote to television characters, movie stars, deceased authors, old flames, loathed bosses and very rarely, to herself. She had written four complete novels and over two dozen short stories. She had sent none of them into the world and none of them were published. No one close to her knew she wrote. Sometimes, during the day, she herself was unsure. Her first book was a historical romance set in northern Mexico in the early nineteen twenties. She had written two endings for it, one tragic and the other fairy tale and she was unsure which of the two was right.

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Monkey Magic

Two poems of Beijing – by Silas Gorin

 

Monkey Magic 
  
This year I stand alone, 19 floors up.
I peek through edges
daring not to wipe the condensed
pane borne vapour.
My loin lost clothes droop long -
sadly hung clouds of grey damp -
into the box I stand in:
a stationary front
shrinking into whispering sheer.
When we were at our peak of future claim,
perhaps with rabbits in the year
twitching at the air, their brains
stone-still as a blunted axe

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Best Buddies

There's no place called home – by Nick Compton

 

Jake’s house wasn’t much to look at. He rented a weather-blasted two bedroom on the edge of town for a couple hundred bucks a month. The roof was caving in and the exterior scraped clean of its white paint by winter winds and too little attention.  What remained was gray lumber streaked white by curling chips. It looked mean. Haunted, almost.

He was my best friend growing up, but I didn’t know where we stood now. I’d left for university, moved around, ended up working in China and never really looked back.  It was rural America. A tiny town in the hills of Northeast Iowa. My home, but no place I wanted to stay.

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