LG Obsessions: Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven

China, Group Travel, Travel Books & Movies, Travel Philosophy — By on April 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Undress me in the Temple of heaven  Susan Jane GilmanBy Amanda Pressner
LG Executive Editor

It’s not often that we pick up a book that all three Lost Girls become obsessed with. But after receiving an advance copy of Susan Jane Gilman’s latest tome Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven (and each reading the first three chapters) we found ourselves fighting over who’d get to get the first crack at it.

Here’s a summary of the plot from Red Room:

“In 1986, fresh out of college, Gilman and her friend Claire yearned to do something daring and original that did not involve getting a job. Inspired by a placemat at the International House of Pancakes, they decided to embark on an ambitious trip around the globe, starting in the People’s Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent travelers for roughly ten minutes.

Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche and an astrological love guide, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads.  As they ventured off the map deep into Chinese territory, they were stripped of everything familiar and forced to confront their limitations amid culture shock and government surveillance. What began as a journey full of humor, eroticism, and enlightenment grew increasingly sinister – becoming a real-life international thriller that transformed them forever.”

What this summary implies (and what we got from reading the book jacket) is that the two leading characters, in all their naiveté,  were somehow taken advantage of by the local Chinese or unwittingly get sucked into a major international crime. Not the case. The danger they face comes from within during the second half of the book. We promise you won’t be able to put the thing down ’til you’ve consumed it all.
If you’re in New York, you can meet Susan Jane Gilman and pick up a copy of the book. She’ll be doing a reading tonight in Soho at McNally Jackson at 7:00 pm.
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