Morning, readers! I'm part of the TLC tour for Clifford Garstang's What the Zhang Boys Know this morning.
The building is known as the Nanking Mansion. Home to twelve condos and an assortment of characters, it serves as the connecting web between the short stories in Clifford Garstang's What the Zhang Boys Know.
First we meet Zhang Feng-qi and his sons, Simon and Wesley. Feng-qi has recently lost his wife to a tragic car accident. He's struggling in his new role as a single father and hopes that he'll soon find a woman who can help fill the hole his wife left in her death. He's also just recently brought his aging father over from China.
His neighbors are: a young seemingly enamored couple, an artist, a sculptor, a recently divorced lawyer, a gay couple who live together with their pug, and a woman who's recently lost her job. Then there's the building manager and the author who sublet his apartment to the young couple.
Each person gets their own story in this collection. Each character is richly detailed and very flawed. In fact, it's downright difficult to find anything redeeming about a few of these folks. Others, though, are charming in their own ways. All of them are utterly fascinating.
All of the stories can certainly stand alone as short literary pieces. As a collection, though, I really love the use of the building as a theme that brings them all together. As someone who already imagines weird and unlikely stories about their own neighbors (hey, I've never met most of them. I can't help it!), I find it very easy to picture each of the people in Nanking Mansion living in the houses around me. Which just makes me wonder what's going on behind those closed doors even more than before!
For more stops on the tour, visit the official TLC tour page here. For more on Clifford Garstang and his work, visit his website here.