[[ Pdf ]] An American Bum in China Author Tom Carter – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk

Down On His Luck And Disabled, Cancer Survivor Matthew Evans Had Nothing To Lose By Fleeing The Farmsteads Of Muscatine, Iowa, At Age To Pursue His Chinese Dream With All The Makings Of A Classic Folk Tale, His Curiosity Became An Epic Five Year Adventure That Would Find Him Homeless, Stateless, Posing As A Professor, Imprisoned, Deported, And Caught In The Middle Of The Hong Kong ProtestsThough It Has All The Form Of Great Fiction, An American Bum In China Is A True Story And All The Crazier For It


10 thoughts on “An American Bum in China

  1. says:

    In 2010, at the canal city of Suzhou, China, Matthew Evans attended a book signing for Tom Carter s new book Tom, a photojournalist, had documented his backpacking journey through every Chinese province having traveled over 35,000 miles over a period of two years Matthew s knapsack contained a well worn copy of Tom s tome, ready to be signed.Who was Matthew Evans Matthew was slouched defeatedly and seemed unable to maintain eye contact He walked with a limp, had missing teeth, and looked old beyond his 23 years after suffering a bout with cancer, possibly as a result of high industrial pollution in his small town of Muscatine, Iowa It was for his very first kissthe real reason he came to Chinawhy he kept going back no matter how many times the Chinese drove him out Matthew was never good about picking up on social cues He went against all ordinary reasoning, practically sought it out Evans saw the laws of the land differently than other folks His transgressions included illegal entry into Muse, Burma through a hole in a fence in Ruili, a border town in Yunnan Province, with plans to sell his American passport Additionally, he obtained a fake diploma with the intention of posing as a university professor.Matthew s Chinese Dream was not in the cards Having been repeatedly chewed up and spat out, in a matter of months, Evans was insolvent , homeless, penniless, and forced to sleep in public places like McDonalds and in a tent in Hong Kong during the 2014 protests An American Bun in China Featuring the bumbling brilliant escapades of expatriate Matthew Evans by Tom Carter paints a rich tapestry of the recollections of Matthew Evans At times humorous, it recounts a five year journey aimed at cutting family ties and becoming his own man, however, he was his own worst enemy Author Carter s commentary on being a laowai foreigner rings true When this reader visited a small city outside Guangzhou, the residents were curious about me, often snapping photos The tome was as informative as it was entertaining The graphic illustrations by John Dobson were awesome A highly recommended read.Thank you Tom Carter, Michael Cannings at Camphor Press Ltd and Goodreads for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


  2. says:

    Disparate as they sounded back then, however, I realize now that the arc of his adventures share the same timeless threads that, throughout world history, have driven other immigrants, expatriates, and refugees to the United States, only in reverse His singular story has all the makings of an un American folk tale So author Tom Carter tells the story of his friend Matthew Evans, a perpetual hard luck case who might just be the oddest expat you ve ever heard of and if you ve been around a good number of expats, that s saying a lot.Evans tale begins in the small town of Muscatine, Iowa where Xi Jinping actually visited in 2012 The comparisons of rural America to rural China are vivid, and in a way that makes it only natural that such a person would be driven to Shanghai and elsewhere as he seeks a better life Spoiler alert, he never does get that better life This quote pretty much sums it up Like everything else that had happened to him in life, from leukemia to being deported, Evans took his dismissal stolidly and as a matter of course Within this slim book, we are quickly taken on this man s journey as he sadly gets diagnosed with cancer and then gets his first kiss and then loses his virginity and is then deported and then returns and then gets a fake degree and so on and so on Somehow, Evans not only became an ESL teacher but was briefly a professor at two prestigious universities Matthew Evans becomes increasingly unsympathetic as time goes by, specifically when it comes to how he obliviously treats his female university students There s no question this poor fellow was not equipped with the skills necessary to make it in the world, whether in America or in China But he does keep making it worse for himself In the end, whether one approves of his character or not, it certainly can t be denied that he s dang interesting and I suppose that makes this a successful book Eventually, there s a Burmese misadventure and jailtime and homelessness, and Evans is permanently exiled from China Justifiably so, it must be said Over in Hong Kong he finds himself tear gassed during the 2014 Umbrella movement and then joins the encampments purely out of personal convenience That s one way to witness history in the making The book is certainly a page turner Carter philosophizes from time to time, speculating on what it all means It s hard to say, but there are things herein worth thinking about Where does a man like Matthew Evans belong In just what society would he be able to make it The book is over before you know it, leaving the reader with a strange yet authentic taste of life in the margins of expathood Whether one reads with a feeling of empathy, or just can t look away from the train wreck, one way or another it s a book definitely worth reading.


  3. says:

    May you live in interesting times an apocryphal Chinese curse Author Tom Carter has become a leader in international diplomacy His immensely successful book CHINA PORTRAIT OF A PEOPLE remains a model of melding photography with commentary This handsome hunk adventurer is from San Francisco originally but won a degree in political science from the American University in Washington, DC and packed his backpack for China in 2004 where he spent two years trekking across 35,000 miles through every Chinese province, winning the title son of China s foremost explorers while capturing it all on film and imbedding his psyche with the myriad aspects of the people and beauties of China This man knows China and he still lives there in Shanghai.Now Tom offers a very contemporary and timely book that takes a different twist on his own experiences Tom narrates this splendidly entertaining and informative tale of Matthew Evans, a fellow expatriate Matthew is from Iowa whose travels travails in China bristle with human errors and misadventures in a most colorful manner The synopsis holds the adventure well Down on his luck and disabled, cancer survivor Matthew Evans had nothing to lose by fleeing the farmsteads of Muscatine, Iowa, at age 21 to pursue his Chinese Dream With all the makings of a classic folk tale, his curiosity became an epic five year adventure that would find him homeless, stateless, posing as a professor, imprisoned, deported, and caught in the middle of the 2014 Hong Kong protests Abetted by John Dobson s fine drawings illustrations, Tom starts his story as follows It was just about midnight when Matthew Evans burrowed rodent like through a hole in a fence in southwestern China s subtropical Yennan Province and illegally crossed the border into Burma The jagged opening in the iron rails had already been cut out, probably years earlier, and was one of the countless unlawful points of entry between Ruili, a bustling Chinese bordertown on the Shweli River, and the small Burmese city of Muse As Tom later shares, I first met Matthew Evans from Muscatine in 2010 at a book signing at the sparsely patronized Bookworm in the scenic canal town of Suzhou Evans had emailed me two years prior, saying he had read my book and asked about coming to China And thus begins one of the best books of the year, immensely entertaining while at the same time rich in insights into a country too few of us understand I realize now that the arc of his adventures share the same timeless threads that, throughout world history, have driven other immigrants, expatriates, and refugees to the United States, only in reverse In that statement, as in this book, Tom focuses on the very timely conundrum of the White House wrangle with the border wall and migrants in general To understand the now of it all, read Tom Carter s very worthy story for pleasure, and for insight Said once, say again This is an important book, not only because of the content, but also because Tom Carter cares about the globalism of learning about all the friends who share this planet Very highly recommended for all readers.


  4. says:

    This short book is brilliant and hilarious It s the story of one Matthew Evans, who escapes the drudgery of Muscatine, Iowa, population not a lot, and a place where farmers cob roll my term a corn husk under their feet to show they are not interested in your conversation and a place so nearly flat, if you stand on a few telephone books, you can see several counties I ve passed through it like many others Evans is a cancer survivor and is aged beyond his years because of his medical regimen He doesn t escape to Des Moines, Iowa, but to China to get a kiss from a long standing internet belle and maybe lose his virginity That first experience turns out to be a disaster In spite of the protestations of his mother They ll shoot you The moment you get off that airplane they ll shoot you Or they ll arrest you They re Communists, And Communists hate Americans , he gets in a plane to China Matthew Evans is a fascinating character but isn t particularly likeable and would be uncomfortable to have dinner with or in his case, date with the many Chinese lovers he eventually finds In the end the reader cannot but help have some sort of sympathy or empathy with him He talks too much, is gimpy, ugly, and is aged beyond his years but there is something intangibly fascinating about him He learns very quickly to become street smart, learns to win at chess in one night in fact so smart that he secures two teaching appointments at leading Chinese universities before being discovered as a fraud Before that is a catalogue of misadventures and Evans learns how to survive Chinese chicanery, to avoid bureaucracy, to sleep rough, and becomes adept at old fashioned scrounging He always seems just one step ahead of the law He even crossed illegally into Myanmar twice In the end it s not the police that catches up with Evans, it s his own incompetence for which he always has an answer but never an angry excuse He tries Hong Kong and Macao as a persona non grata in mainland China, but his adventures lead to similar destitution He implodes His former internet girlfriends, of over five years, run out of patience with bailing him out The end is tantalizing The author leaves it open to the imagination what happens next Mom s got steak and creamed corn on the table on a flight back to Iowa or maybe a new adventure This relates to 2010 Today the anti hero, Evans, would not survive so long with new surveillance and improved scrutiny In his time, he was a survivor twice Tom Carter is an author who deserves attention and this book would make an excellent movie, especially with Hanks as Evans Gump.


  5. says:

    I was sent this book as an ARC by the publishers Thank you I have been living and working in China for the past seven years and I am still here As I mention in the half way review our eponymous hero of this biographical narrative is a broad stereotype of many of the expats I have met in many a insalubrious bar here in China, Thailand and so on He is the sort fellow that gets the rest of us a bad name in the teaching fraternity as he proposes himself as a teacher but can barely string two coherent sentences together in front of a class One American of my acquaintance, creatively named after a river, Hudson, was the personification of the former sentence At the training school, in front of precocious six year olds, he simply froze He was on a tourist visa and trying his luck as a teacher Another, was often so drunk he would pass out in the taxi home, or crash his scooter adding to the scars on his face, but unlike Matthew he had rich parents back home who would fund his medical bills and police fines Another, we called Rikipedia because he always knew better than anyone else around the table, but was so severely lacking in social graces that he spent most of his time in the bar staring into his laptop How he managed to snare himself a Chinese girlfriend is beyond me Of course he left her and their dog in the lurch to return to the bosom of his family, he had one of those American names that stinks of money Rikipedia Something III This is how Tom Carter categorises the type of bar fly American you will find in China and elsewhere in Asia symbolises the wretched, white trash wanderlusting that has come to define the new generation of young, restless, socially unmoored American expatriates fleeing to the Middle Kingdom China whose shores are now teeming with Western refuse such as Evans So Matthew Evans is not a new phenomenon, nor a surprise for those of us who have spent any time in China In fact, in the 1970 s I met a similar American travelling through Africa On the banks of the Zambezi River, in Botswana at the Zambian border This ragged and dirty guy turned up He told us he had been travelling through Africa disclaiming Shakespeare on street corners for cash He got arrested He asked us to contact the American embassy which we did We also saw him being beaten by the guards in a compound But apparently when we called the American embassy they already knew of his plight and were sending a helicopter I want to believe he was some sort of CIA spook it was the mid 70 s after all.So back to the story Not so far fetched as to think Tom Carter was making it up why would he when the ground is so fertile with these sorts of characters No doubt, like me, Tom has met many many of these types chancing their luck in China, not believing that the laws of the land actually need to be followed and squealing in disbelief, like Matthew does, when things don t go their way, just by dint of having a white face and being a foreigner.So an entertaining read I would have liked an epilogue detailing what s happening to the po boy now, back in Iowa Or still drifting, following the hobo trail to who knows where But to be honest most of us in China right now have no plans for the future and make it up as we go along, just like Matthew had to do An enjoyable read Thanks.


  6. says:

    I received a complimentary copy.First of all, shout out to Matthew, wow you have done amazing things The book has stories that capture the moments in almost picturesque quality Taking time to relax and get into the chapters is a great idea.


  7. says:

    The city of Muscatine in Iowa carries the sobriquet of Pearl of the Mississippi Once famous for its then revolutionary manufacture of pearl like buttons created from freshwater mussels during the dawn of the twentieth century, Muscatine has little else in its history to proclaim other than a brief stay in 1855 by Mark Twain who contributed to the local Muscatine Journal and declared the city s summer sunsets to have no equal With a population of approximately 24,000 people, Muscatine is the quintessential small mid western town that is so often stated to be the truest representation of the United States by both its supporters and detractors Any reader of The Wizard of Oz will know that the larger city of Kansas in neighbouring Missouri was chosen by L Frank Baum as America s archetype for his heroine Dorothy to hail from during her journeys through the topsy turvy land of Oz However, in these strange times when the yellow brick road is built from numbers rather than gold, the tragedy of modern America can perhaps be found in smaller forgotten towns like Muscatine where even dreams of escape fail and die.Twain s iconic American hero Huckleberry Finn embarked on an odyssey that embodied the spirit of independence and the possibility of adventure that awaited pioneering young men during the age of the antebellum south Young men seeking new frontiers were once considered the foundation of America s story before Ellis Island was retconned into the Union s founding myth Tom Carter s new chapbook An American Bum in China The Bumblingly Brilliant Escapades of Expatriate Matthew Evans also features a young pioneer from Muscatine heading off to faraway lands, but the reality of that adventure for an American in the 21st century is wildly different from Huck s scrapes along the Mississippi.Tom Carter is a long term American expat who has settled in China and has published previous works about the country including the photography book China Portrait of a People and Unsavory Elements a collection of tales of foreign ne er do wells getting up to all sorts of mischief in the Middle Kingdom For his latest work An American Bum in China, Carter has chosen to relate the tale of real life son of Muscatine Matthew Evans whom he first encountered during one of his book promotion tours What follows is an often hilarious tale of misadventure as we follow Evans through increasingly worsening situations in China, but one that always carries an undercurrent of tragedy, sadness, and a sense of decline in our way of life Though ostensibly the tale of one man s spiral into overseas homelessness, the book serves as a fascinating insight into how small town America has been ravaged by the gods of the global economy.The protagonist of this true life story is one Matthew Evans whom we meet in the first chapter illegally crossing the Chinese Burmese border through a hole in a fence in a misguided attempt to sell his American passport for 15,000 dollars Evans a bumbling, uncharismatic figure who almost certainly sits somewhere high on the autism spectrum has reached this desperate situation after a series of events that are all too common in this atomized age of anomie He is a lonely individual brimming with hormones and emotions and bodily fluids that can drive lonely young men mad who first comes to China after making contact with a Chinese girl on an online forum dedicated to anime Yet he is quickly rebuffed when the girl realizes her new found American friend is no dashing figure clad in designer clothing and she undergoes a swift transformation into lesbianism Instead, Evans is the product of a forgotten America where economic prospects are dim and what little industry there is proves toxic to its future generations This toxicity is quite literal in the case of Evans As the author explains, Muscatine has always had an issue with waste management , an issue that led to a landfill being constructed outside the city where the garbage of nearby factories, mills and mines was dumped It was upon this landfill where Evans elementary school was later built It is no surprise what happens next In the year 2000, Matthew Evans along with at least eight other students and teachers attending Washington Elementary School fell ill and were subsequently diagnosed with cancers Several female teachers came down with breast cancer Students like Evans developed leukemia Some died This type of tale of chemical poisoning, child cancer and nefarious collaboration between industry and government is viewed as a product of China, but the toxicity that put Evans in a hospital bed for his entire seventh and eighth grade and leaves him with a limp for life happened right in America s heartland.Spurned by his Asian Helen, the rest of An American Bum in China chronicles Evans odyssey through a number of miserable jobs, stints in Chinese prison for overstaying his visa, and homelessness on the streets of various Chinese cities We are used to reading stories in the mainstream press of illegal foreign workers being exploited by ruthless American employers, hounded by ICE, and scrambling around the branches of remittance companies for money The truth is, and Americans are finding themselves in this situation not lured by adventure, but driven by circumstance Possession of an American passport offers little protection or benefit to Evans other than the prospect of selling it to shady Burmese businessmen for 15,000 dollars At one point in the book, Evans having failed in his attempt to sell his passport but having succeeded in losing it is forced to hitchhike to the American consulate in Chengdu in order to procure a new passport In China, he is unable to book a hotel room or even buy a train ticket without his precious little blue book Upon arrival at the consulate, he is greeted with a unique form of American bureaucracy and is turned away from the gates of his country s consulate a further number of times as he fails to possess the correct police report paperwork, the correct processing receipt, or the consulate is closed for a public holiday Even when he hands in the correct paperwork, he is forced to sleep in a McDonalds while he waits out the weeks required to process his new passport No longer does the American government send gunboats to foreign shores to provide assistance to its citizens in peril instead it closes its doors to them, both home and abroad China, by contrast, likes to demonstrate its growing influence by threatening to boycott entire countries as tourist destinations to the financial might of its tour groups, even when its citizens are clearly in the wrong like when trying to gatecrash a Swedish hotel An American Bum in China can be read as a comic novel one where we laugh at the increasingly dire situations the protagonist finds himself in More than a wry smile is raised when we read about how Evans , in desperation, resorted to standing topless outside a Macau casino with the words rub the lucky foreigner s tummy scrawled in Chinese characters held aloft on a piece of cardboard in an attempt to beg money from wealthy Chinese gamblers Yet it can be and should be read as of a tragedy The tragedy of Americans without prospects who, as Patrick Buchanan would have put it, have been left behind by globalist trade deals, open border immigration policies and foreign interventionism These are the younger generation of Americans whose current and future prospects are a pale imitation of what their parents could enjoy In Evans case, his mother and father were able to build a prosperous life for themselves by enrolling in Muscatine Community College and working in a local tire retreading company For the son, two years at Muscatine Community gifted him a Computer Networking Certificate of Achievement a poor man s computer science degree valid only in Muscatine leaving him without the prospect of a job or potential home ownership.Aside from Mark Twain s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, one of Twain s other great fictional creations was the Connecticut Yankee who travelled back in time to King Arthur s court If we could recreate the Yankee s time travelling teleportation but instead whisk an Iowan from the 1960s or 70s to present day America and show them the story of people like Matthew Evans what would they think How were the roles of America and China reversed What caused the college madness and political upheaval of China s Cultural Revolution to be transplanted onto American shores while the economic growth and entrepreneurism of post war USA moved from Detroit to Dongguan Where did America s spirit go I applaud Tom Carter for publishing a work that is not only a fun and whimsical read about one of America s oddest pioneers, but also a tale that inadvertently captures the zeitgeist of our age Carter s prose is deliberately homely and anachronistic with its chapter summaries and the occasional antiquated choice of word, and by doing so he directly holds up Matthew Evans and his disappointing China adventures as a modern mirror opposite to his earlier, and optimistic, fictional counterparts.


  8. says:

    There is a lazy, hidebound assumption that people who work as English teachers abroad lack the qualifications to hack out a career back home, and it s the only job the losers and bottom feeders can find But it s a hackneyed clich , one that obscures the real class of losers Think about it To be able to go abroad, all by yourself, is an impressive feat You need, for starters, to have a certain imaginative capacity, a conception that there are other countries in the world, and that it s possible to visit them and even live in them This is than can be said for many Americans On my occasional trips back home, I am thrust into a sharply different reality There is a dim awareness of my just having returned from somewhere, though I no longer entertain any expectation I will be asked about my home of the past twenty five years Except for Beijing Where s that again, Lebanon The conversation then reverts to the insular world of personal problems inhabited by family and friends Then there s the smarts required to plan a trip how to apply for a passport and whether you even qualify for one, and a visa, whatever that is You need spare money, enough at least for international plane fare For those seeking to find work abroad, you need the savvy to know how to procure a fake diploma and to pass for a college educated person in your job application, not to mention where to apply for a job To be able to do all of this requires a mental sophistication above and beyond a great many people Yes, people back home, people around you, the real losers.Tom Carter s An American Bum in China is the real life tale of what happens when one has just enough native wit to make it to China but not enough to hold down a job It is saying something, however, that Matthew Evans is able to wiggle his way into the country not once but five times albeit twice illegally and live out his days there in the most dramatic fashion While it s painful to watch as the universities which hired him in turn, Nanjing Agriculture University and East China Normal University, realize all too slowly Evans had faked his academic credentials and had never taught a class in his life, nonetheless we cannot but admire his nerve, or should I say verve, in pulling off the ruse Otherwise mostly jobless in China, arrested for vagrancy, penniless, sleeping in hotel lobbies, McDonald s restaurants and ATM booths while subsisting on ketchup packets, losing his passport while attempting to sell it in Burma after sneaking through a border fence, the guy indeed has incredible staying power and an unfathomable knack for living on the edge We begin to root for Evans as little acts of sympathy enable him to extend his misery in the country a few days without perishing thirty dollars wired by his grandmother here, girls met online throwing a few coins his way there though he d have been better off back in a Chinese jail where he at least would have been fed before once again being deported directly back to Muscatine, Iowa, instead of sneaking over to Hong Kong and mooching off umbrella protesters and begging on a Macao sidewalk, after being spat out of the Mainland once and for all Weeks without showering or a change of clothes are minor inconveniences what s enlightening is how many days one can survive without food before mental disorientation from extreme ketogenesis sets in.I suspect many readers, U.S readers in particular, will regard Matthew Evans as a disgrace Carter s engaging narrative, at once wry and affectionately told, has a built in liability, its distasteful subject matter, which may keep book reviewers at arm s length as well To wallow in such a life and have it decked out as literature will not gain much sympathy from those of Protestant work ethic heritage those who read books anyway Evans stands for everything people of all creeds, persuasions and lifestyles from Christians to anarchists, all whose calling is the purposeful life are mortally against Even the publisher betrays uneasiness with its subject matter, gathering up the dirt and the mess within the confines of a neat and tidy cover design and carefully spaced rustic font The fact that hordes of people do live like this, like tramps and bums, makes the narrative all the disturbing for serving as a mirror and commentary on the darker side of American capitalism John Dobson s homespun illustrations nicely complement the text, but I would have preferred to see the designer take a roughshod approach, fitting to the content, one imitative, say, of a torn and frayed cover and stains and splotches on the interior pages, what a book would end up looking like in Evans hands after a few days, now sitting uncomfortably on your coffee table.Still, I have a different take on things I see Evans role and agenda as quite pointed and intentional, almost poetic and celebratory, even if he himself could hardly articulate it that of comic protagonist, jester, in the staid court of Communist China Evans caught the tail end of an era when lowlife expats were allowed in and indulged to a degree, before being spat out He took this project to its logical extreme, seeing how far it was possible to push things, how low he could go, and to this extent was a pioneer, of a very special sort.


  9. says:

    From Muscatine to Shanghai, with stops at the Burmese border, multiple McDonald s and a few jail cells, this delightful book about the incredible misadventures of Matthew Evans is a breezy, playfully written read On the surface, it s the modern tale of an innocent fella from Iowa who seeks freedom and adventure in Asia but also serves as a poignant reminder that economic refugees blowing in on the trade winds will find no welcome glowing from China s ancient lands His capacity to survive is impressive, and despite being perennially broke and sometimes full of lice, his character is endearing and his timing uncanny The book and its ending are especially thought provoking at a time when Hong Kong continues to fight for its freedom and democracy in many other parts of the world has seen better days


  10. says:

    This was such a sweet, fun read Matthew Evans is basically a real life Forrest Gump who finds himself in a bizarre assortment of adventures, mishaps and self inflicted predicaments over the course of five years in China This laugh out loud narrative concludes during the 2014 Hong Kong protests, which is no laughing matterexcept for the fact that Evans is there for all the wrong reasons Biographer Tom Carter is a brilliant storyteller, weaving in humor with insightful first hand perspectives of Chinese culture and Sino American politics Only 130 pages, I breezed through this in one Saturday afternoon.