Thursday, May 03, 2007

Iron and Silk

from the diary: “Wednesday 7/29/87

“I read more of Iron and Silk, a wonderful book by a young man, Mark Salzman, who taught English in China.”

Mark Salzman is a gentleman of many talents. I searched the web for the hunky photo of Salzman shirtless that appeared in Interview Magazine but no luck. A body crafted by years of martial arts training; he trained in China, too. He also plays the cello. Not that I knew any of that when I read Iron and Silk. I’d read books on contemporary China and picked up Iron and Silk because it promised a more personal than political take on a country that still offered limited access to outsiders. I’m sure I stood in the library reading from random pages; I always do that before I bring a book home.

I haven’t yet gotten around to seeing the movie Salzman made based on his experiences.

My mother read Iron and Silk. It was one of the few books that Mom read after me.

Kent tells me he knew Mark Salzman in college. Yale class of ’81. Kent would spar with Mark, which, Kent says, meant he would try to parry Mark’s … thrusts? During one summer break Kent studied Wing Chun but upon returning to Yale found Mark had broken with his Chinese girlfriend. Mark had renounced all things Chinese, including the martial arts, so the sparring days were over. The existence of Iron and Silk suggests Mark got over his pique.

(Kent says “would spar” sounds like it was a regular thing. “It only happened a couple a times!”)

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