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Unfortuantely this book reminded me that as much as I love clasical Chinese literature I dont care for modern stories at all! They seem to nearly all be about how dumb/dirty/supersticious etc peasants are. The translations were good but I just didnt care for hardly any of the stories at all.The first story, xiangxue by Tie Ning was very simple. It was about a small village that had a train come through it and young girls who sold things to people on the train. One of them was a student in a local school and wanted a pencil case like the girls in her class to prove she wasnt a country bumpkin. It was quite simplistic but I quite liked the writing and could easily picture the young girls.The 2nd story the anestor, I didnt care for at all, an old woman and her ignorant children. It reminded me why I dont normally like modern fictionThe third story Dog was about an old man who did all the work called Dog. It was another ignorant peasant story. As was the fourth story Plough ox which was about a man who really liked his ox and ran away with him when foot and mouth hit the village. While it was the same theme as the others I liked it a bit better as the writing was more eloquent and it reminded me of the Dunhuang manuscript that was dedicated to the loyal ox.the fifth story the mistake was kinda pointless about two kids born at the same time, it was a sad story though the narrator spent more time focusing on his missing hat than the children being born and their different parents, or lack of parents. It felt like a story that was trying very hard to be modern even though its judgement of sex outside marriage felt very old fashioned.The fifth story Lanterns for the dead by Jing Yun was the best and was the one that convinced me not to give the book away when I finished reading it. It was about a young woman visiting the Yellow River for a conference and the memories of a public execution that had happened there. It was lyrical and haunting and was wonderful. There were some lovely passages in the Chinese and its defintiely a story I will read again.Greasy Moon I didnt care for at all. It was trying to be too clever and was about a homocidal killer who sold his victims to be made into dumplings, and had sex with dead women, told in a disjointed style that went back and forth in time. It was a fancy version of the peasants are dumb stories.Receiving the precepts by Wang Zengqi on the other hand was just wonderful. Wang remembered that peasants actually had a lot of skills, and being a farmer required lots of different knowledge. The first half of the story was a fantastic description of popular Buddhist religion as it was viewed through ordinary peoples lives and the second half was about life in village for young women. I found it fascinating and really enjoyed the style. After the horridness of the previous stories it was a refreshing change.Even though I didnt enjoy most of the stories Im still glad I read this. It was nice to be able to appreciate different styles in Chinese writing (something I dont think Ive picked up on before) and it gave me the names of a couple Chinese authors Id like to read more books by when my Chinese gets better.

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