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Anyone else out there read BRIDGE OF BIRDS?
It's my all-time favorite book, even though most people have never heard of it. It found its way to me right after it was printed in 1982. I was shocked to find it classified as fantasy/science fiction. I don't read that genre - well, except for ENDER'S GAME.
The story is simple. Someone has poisoned the children of a village in ancient China, putting them in a coma. The people of the village send their most promising young man, Number Ten Ox, to Peking to hire someone to solve the mystery and save the kids.
Master Li, the incredibly funny and wise old man who comes to their rescue introduces himself by saying, "My surname is Li, my given name is Kao and there is a slight flaw in my character."
There's also an sub-plot, involving Chinese gods and a shepherd and the princess of birds.
I read the book at least once a year ... and it never fails to delight, entertain and touch my heart. I always cry at the end, even though I know what's coming and have read it over and over. The writing is first-rate and with characters like Master Li, reading "Bridge of Birds" is time well spent.
Barry Hughart, the author, wrote two other Master Li/Number Ten Ox stories. I wish there were more. When the Internet first started, I tracked Hughart to Arizona and found I am only one of many to have begged him to put more stories on paper. He adamantly refuses. Kinda like Willis Alan Ramsey - if the first album was good enough, why produce another?
The book is available in paperback at amazon.com ... check out the reviews there ... they're all more glowing than mine.