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DESCRIPTIONTerracotta Typewriter #3, Fall 2009
Issue #3 Fa
Unsolicited manuscripts are welcomed throughout the year.
Terracotta Typewriter seeks submissions of literary works
with a connection to China. The definition of connection to
China can be stretched as much as an author sees fit. For ex-
ample, expatriate writers living in China or who have lived
in China, Chinese writers writing in English, translators of
Chinese writing, works that are set in China, manuscripts
covered in Chinese food (General Tsos chicken doesnt
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nection to China.
2009 by Terracotta Typewriter. All rights reserved.
Cover art by Elrond Burrell 2009
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NOT FOR RESALE.
A Cultural Revolution
In This Issue
Letters to the Editor 1
Genghis and Me 3 Kaiser Kuo
Poster Boy 6 Karen Hunt
Letter 20 John Bennett
Interview with 22
Review: The Beijing 31
Penjing 33 Rebecca Demarest
Hello, Good-bye 38 Vivian Liao
ChiNa 49 William S. Tribell
Contributor Notes 50
Letters to the Editor Dear Sir/Madam,
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In Trust And Good Faith
Mr.Zheng Choua, Sales Manager,
Thank you for your kind offer, but Im having difficulty finding Ghangzhou
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Ghengis and Me
S o I was just minding my own business, hauling a cartload
of millet as tribute for the local Jurchen grandee when I
caught the unmistakable whiff of a Mongol horde. "Oh,
shit, not again," I thought, and tried to hide in a sack of
millet. But then the horde and its overpowering stench were
upon me. Two leathery Mongo bruisers hauled me out by my
ears and slammed me on the ground before the man himself. I
made all obsequiousGreat Khan this and O Man of the Millen-
nium that. I also apologized for soiling myself, something of which
I'm not proud, but man, I was scared and you would've done the
"Get your Han ass up off the ground and tell me why I
shouldnt just let my men use you for target practice," said Genghis
Khan in a voice that was surprisingly high and tinnynot what
youd expect from a legendary butcher of men.
"Mighty Khan, the Empire may be conquered on horseback,
but cannot be ruled on horseback," I said, my voice cracking. I was
in the throes of puberty, you see. It occurred to me the horde
thought I was mocking the Khans girly voice. Some drew their
swords andsnarled. But then this effete-looking Khitan dude with
a braided forelock pushes forward and says, all indignant,
"Excuse me, kid, but the horseback bit? that's my line,
okay? And besides, it was a total non sequitur." It was Yel Chu-
cai: I recognized him from his campaign posters from when he ran
for mayor of Beijing. "Your mama!" I shot back, and for some rea-
son that cracked all the Mongols up, and Genghis Khan most of all.
After that the Khan's horsemen chased me around whipping my
buttocks for a couple of hours, but in the end Genghis suf-
fered me to live and let me clean up.
Turns out that it really was Yel Chucai first said that thing
about ruling on horseback, and I reckon he was right about it being
a non sequitur too. I told him so, explaining that I was
scared and it was the first thing that popped out, it being so quot-
able. Later, he sent his thugs for me, had them pull out a couple of
my fingernails and torture my feet with a red-hot poker for a cou-
ple of days, and after that Chucai and I were coolfriends,
even, and we would privately snigger together at the Mongols
when they would leave camp to "go among the sheep."
The Khan had some real hotties for daughters, and in a bid to
get close to one, I figured Id make friends with his sons. The eld-
est, Jochi croaked earlyhe went among the sheep and caught
something, Im toldbut I was tight with Ogodei and Tolui, the
youngest boy. Chagatai was a nasty bugger and even his brothers
shunned him. He would hot-box the lot of us in his yurthed seal
up the flapsand the smoke hole up top, and fart nasty mutton farts.
Then hed wave his scimitar around and threaten to behead any-
one he thought was breathing through their mouth.
Genghis Khan had the dopest of yurts. Whether we were chill-
ing in Karakorum or out in the field on campaign, the mans deco-
rator knew how to pimp a yurt: the finest wool carpets of Per-
sia and the Caucuses, silk from the lands south of the Yangtze,
copper andbrass wares from the smiths of Anatolia, the grinning
skulls of princes and satraps foolish enough to oppose him. I
taught Genghis to play the board game Risk and we often stayed
up playing all night in that stylin yurt, me and Genghis, Og-
gie and Tolui, sometimes Chucai and the general Subotai too. We
regulars always let the Khan win. But one night, after imbibing a
bit too much of single-mare, this general named Jogdach (who was
a nice enough guy when he wasn't catapulting rotting corpses into
recalcitrant Chinese cities he happened to be laying siege to) at-
tacked the Khan in Kamchatka from Alaska. He rolled a bunch of
sixes and took him out. Genghis kicked the board over, and while
Tolui and me sorted the armies and put away the game, poor Jog-
dach was trussed up, rolled into a carpet, and dragged behind
horses until he was tenderized to death.
The years went by. We wiped the floor with the Jurchen,
whod gone soft from a high-carb Northern Chinese diet, took out
Western Xia, conquered Khwarezmia, and laid waste to the great
Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Merv. I started to get
the hang of the looting and pillaging. I wasnt the best rider in the
horde, but pretty soon I was as surly and bow-legged as the next
guy. I developed a taste for fine, single-mare kumiss, which Id
loot from duty-free shops.
The daughter I was keen on, Magda, seemed to take a shine
to me, too, and so after some deliberation I asked her out to view
the Mountain of Skulls wed made after the sack of Samarkand.
When I went to pick her up, the Khan was there, and while she got
dressed, I had to endure the third degree from her old man. "What
is best in life?" he asked in his weird falsetto. Ordinari