THE DRAGON BREATH PAPERS by Richard Gardner

THE DRAGON BREATH PAPERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A cleverly contrived, though not altogether successful, political and philosophical parable by the gifted author of The Adventures of Don Juan. Wang, a committed Chinese soldier, is the sole attendant at the death of one of the ""Seven Extant Founders of the People's Republic."" This elder entrusts to Wang's care a fundamentally concealed strip of microfilm which is to be delivered to the Chairman himself. By the time Wang is captured by the Americans, he has also secreted the vital document in the same fashion. He is spirited to San Francisco where he makes his escape, which enables Mr. Gardner to take some telling, if easy, potshots at The Big PX. Wang becomes involved with various archetypes: the liberated woman, the corrupt Chinese businessman and--principally--the mad and boozy artist who is constructing a huge junk sculpture directly in the path of a new superhighway (and who is far too close to Joyce Cary's Gulley Jimson). The artist and Wang swap Western and Eastern aphorisms at considerable length. In a technologically advanced showdown everything blows up, but Wang makes his escape back to China where he does indeed deliver the suitably obscure Dragon Breath Papers to Mao. But through his exposure to the outside world, Wang has become--in a small way--his own man. Gardner is admirably faithful to his own grounds rules but, as Confucius say, ""What is so tiresome as a wholly sustained metaphor?

Pub Date: March 1st, 1976
Publisher: Viking