How to Pick Up a Maid in Statue Square by Rea Tarvydas

Empty vessels…

😐 😐

This is a collection of linked short stories set in modern Hong Kong which, the blurb tells us, “collectively capture various versions of the expat life that share the feeling of being between two worlds, that experience of being neither here nor there and trying to find a way to fill that space.” The way the characters mostly fill the space is by having empty, meaningless sex, usually with strangers.

The stories are well written, but terribly repetitive, filled with too much swearing, drink, drugs and the aforesaid empty sex. The overall impression is of a sordid, seedy place, where people go to make money and seem to lose their souls in the process. I suspect that’s the point, and therefore in that sense the author succeeds in her aim. But I certainly didn’t find them an entertaining bunch to spend time with nor, if I’m truthful, did I really buy the whole idea that expat life is quite this vacuous and pointless, except perhaps for people who have no internal resources to fall back on. I also felt that the picture of Hong Kong was extremely narrowly drawn, never letting us see beyond the restricted vision and lack of cultural curiosity of the characters. These expats could have been anywhere.

I don’t want to be too harsh. Many people have a higher tolerance level than me for reading about whiny, foul-mouthed, addicted, entitled, poor little rich kids having sex, and for them I’m sure these stories will seem less tedious.

NB I won this book in a giveaway from the lovely Anne at ivereadthis.com – sorry, Anne! I tried to love it… 😉

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

16 thoughts on “How to Pick Up a Maid in Statue Square by Rea Tarvydas

  1. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like this more than you did, FictionFan. The premise – being an ex-pat – sounds absolutely fascinating. So does the setting. But if the characters aren’t appealing, or at least interesting, it’s hard to stay interested in their doings. And I’m not one for empty sex and lots of drug use.

    • I loved the premise and was really looking forward to seeing Hong Kong through the eyes of ex-pats. But these ex-pats were the most uninteresting tour guides! And as for the drink, drugs and hanky-panky – well! I spent the whole time wanting to tell them to get out and do a bit of sight-seeing or take up a nice hobby! Read a book, even! 😉

  2. I’m still laughing over this review! I can’t help it. I find it amusing when you rip into something that fails to entertain, hold your attention/interest, or doesn’t offer a solid plot or characters. This sounds pretty dreadful to me, too.

    • Hahaha – I’m glad it made you laugh, Debbie – I thought I was losing my touch for a moment! I do get grumpy when a book fails to live up to my hopes for it, don’t I? 😉

    • I’m definitely not the right reader for it anyway, that’s for sure! I just kept wanting to tell them to stop all the drinking and hanky-panky, and get out and do a bit of sight-seeing… 😉

  3. That’s disappointing. I can say that my experience living in Hong Kong was not at all seedy and involved no drugs or random sex. Although, I was a toddler so who knows what I missed…

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