I had heard the term "Duku" in the book circle before, but I had never seen this type of book in bookstores or known anyone who read it. So the term just stayed in my mind.
It wasn't until recently when I was chatting with Frank that he asked me what books I had been reading lately. I told him that I had been busy with work and had been reading some easy-to-read essays and miscellaneous books, such as Ji Xianlin's "Random Thoughts". Then he asked if I had heard of "Duku". I said I had heard of it and it seemed like they had held an offline book club a few days ago, but I just hadn't read any of their books.
So he told me about "Duku", including its origin and how he came across this brand, and how he has subscribed to their books for the whole year. After listening, I felt that what they were doing was very interesting and they had their own set of standards, which made me even more curious.
Finally, Frank said he would find a book for me to read first.
The next day, he came to my desk and handed me "Duku 1802".
I placed this book on my bedside table and flipped through it before going to bed at night. It took me about a week to finish reading it.
The book consists of multiple short articles, each with a different theme. There are cutting-edge topics (2018) such as blockchain, as well as historical topics like Goryeo. There are also more biographical themes, such as the folk master of purple clay teapots, Wu Xiaotu, the emotional entanglement between poet Yu Dafu and Wang Yingxia, and the relationship between writer and painter Meng Weizai.
Among them, my favorite is the...biographical...theme stories.
Self-narration of Wu Xiaotu#
This article is based on interviews with Wu Xiaotu conducted between 2012 and 2015.
From his childhood story to his first encounter with purple clay, and then the decades-long process of making purple clay teapots.
In Wu Xiaotu, I saw the...resistance against fate..., and the...perseverance and persistence...that lasted for decades. His early experiences were very difficult. He had to collect firewood and coal to barely support himself. It wasn't until he accidentally came into contact with purple clay teapots that he decided to devote himself to it. He started learning to make purple clay teapots from scratch and persisted for decades. This kind of wholehearted dedication surpasses more than 99% of people, which may be the difference between him and those who live mediocre lives. The price of his purple clay teapots has increased from 50 yuan each to 100,000 yuan each.
This article tells the story of Yu Dafu's love life. I got to know Yu Dafu from an article in the Chinese textbook called "Autumn in the Old Capital". When I read this article, I felt that his writing style was similar to his name, filled with a...melancholic...tone.
"Autumn in the northern country is particularly clear, quiet, and desolate."
——"Autumn in the Old Capital"
After reading this article, I realized that he did have a bit of melancholy, but most poets are like that. Melancholy is one side of him, while the other side is passionate and...emotionally intense.... This can be seen in his story with Wang Yingxia, from the initial falling in love and passionate pursuit, to the revelation of his eccentric side after marriage and the crazy exhibitionism, publicly publishing Wang Yingxia's diaries and even her letters, ultimately leading to the end of their marriage.
When he was pursuing Wang Yingxia:
"A blush appeared on Yu Dafu's neurotic face."
"If she occasionally talked to me, all the cells and nerves in my body would feel as comfortable as if they had been ironed."
Wang Yingxia's description of Yu Dafu:
"A poet, he lives in history, he is an immortal. If he lived upstairs from you, he would be a madman."
——Quoted from Cao Juren's saying in Wang Yingxia's autobiography
The tearing between Yu Dafu and Wang Yingxia ultimately became a topic of discussion among literary figures. Coincidentally, he and Xu Zhimo were classmates in middle school. It is rare for two exceptional poets to come from the same class, and their experiences in love are quite similar as well.
This article made me realize the...low-key and warm...writer Meng Weizai, just like Zhang Xiaohui whom I accidentally got to know before.
The narrator and Meng Weizai lived in the same alley and became friends from a young age. Although there was a big age difference between them, they both loved painting and had many common topics, becoming unforgettable friends.
The author mentioned a few memorable incidents. One was when they secretly celebrated Meng Weizai's birthday, preparing more than a dozen dishes and buying red wine. When he entered the door, he was stunned and couldn't help but cry. Another incident was after the author moved to a different place, Meng Weizai would often come downstairs to wait for her because the new buildings in the area looked similar and it was easy to get lost. One snowy afternoon, she waited for a long time and her clothes were covered in snow.
The Meng Weizai described by the author is very similar to my deceased grandfather. They both spoke very little and silently contributed... After closing the book, I thought of my grandfather again.
The books from "Duku" are indeed of high quality and worth reading. Thanks to Frank, I was introduced to this brand at the beginning of 2021, and I have a long time to read their other books.