It is Just That Your House is So Far Away

Signature Editions
Noyes, Steve
2013-04-24 16:43:57: Nomination was created
2013-04-25 1:03:03: payment successful from Paypal (order 55)
Karen Haughian
Signature Editions
Feature film
Steve Noyes has published six books of poetry and fiction. A graduate of UBC's MFA Writing program and Carleton's journalism school, Noyes has published more than 100 poems, stories and book reviews. His writing appears regularly in The Malahat Review, The Globe and Mail, Queen's Quarterly, and the Vancouver Sun.
Well reviewed at a variety of outlets, including the Winnipeg Free Press, Broken Pencil, and Review Canada.
Jeff and Bian Fu want to marry their exotic, mistaken fantasies of each other, but both, in different ways, are already taken.
Jeff Mott meets Bian Fu while he is teaching abroad in Beijing. The two immediately fall in love and become engaged. However, Bian Fu seems to be hiding something, and when all is revealed, Jeff flies back to Canada, promising to return. Separated, the lovers continue to plan their marriage, but Jeff wonders, is it the woman he loves, or China, or is it that he has imagined both of them as he wishes, but not as they are?
ν Jeff Mott is a British Columbian slacker with a daughter in Canada, who teaches in Beijing.

ν Wang Bian Fu is a Chinese student who lives with her separated mother.
ν The two manage, in their heated infatuation, to give each other exactly the wrong impression.
Bian Fu thinks Jeff is a rich foreigner, and the key to North American paradise, whereas he is often unemployed, smokes a lot of dope, and is aimless and unambitious. Bian Fu learns that Jeff is not as reliable as she thought, and not ideal husband material.
ν Jeff thinks he's met the ideal woman, a beautiful Beijing girl with the heart of a rebel. Jeff learns that Bian Fu is complicated: she has neglected to tell him that she’s already married, and deep down wants to be taken care of by a man in the traditional way. 

ν Bian Fu's mother, independent but a stern moralist.

ν Jeff’s young daughter Melissa lives with her mother in Victoria

ν Jeff's friend Terry is a study in a Canadian husband, trapped and apathetic

ν Robert, "the ugly Canadian" is an insight into a singularly unappealing way to be foreign in China.
It is Just That Your House is So Far Away is chock full of appealing themes for North American and Chinese-North Americans:

ν Intercultural romance is at the core of It is Just That Your House is So Far Away: the surprising and counterintuitive things the lovers discover about each other and disapproval that surrounds them.
ν What is disclosed and what is hidden in a relationship; how do lovers reveal and mislead each other? 
ν Differences between the generations, in both China and Canada, and different ideas about family ties often short-circuit the lovers' connection.
ν Foreign economic/political themes: The story takes place just as China and Beijing were starting their rapid change into economic powerhouses, and the story provides oblique insight into how the Chinese were hanging onto their culture while absorbing the change.
ν Other themes include: Long distance relationships, under-employment, and raising kids, whether as a single father or a somewhat fatigued grandmother.
ν Overarching theme: how to make difficult choices that lead, or don't lead, to happiness.
The jostling crowds and cramped courtyards off narrow alleys of Beijing, along with the closely-watched and paranoid Foreign experts dormitory--a good director could really do something with the high walls around families, the heavy metal gates, the sooty interiors and constantly moving exterior streets of bicycles. And it can be brilliantly contrasted with Victoria's antique doziness, the parks and ocean, the almost empty streets, Jeff's tiny apartment. If need be, the Chinese alleyway scenes could be shot in Hong Kong or Taipei, or, the story could be modified and shot in Victoria and Richmond.
Men 18–34
Women 18–34
Men 35-54
Women 35–54
Lost in Translation (starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson) where an aging American actor navigates the cultural confusion of Tokyo; Chinese Box (starring Jeremy Irons and Gong Li), in which a British journalist has an affair with a Chinese woman trapped in an arrangement with a businessman; Double Happiness, a Canadian film starring Sandra Oh, a love story between a white guy and a Chinese girl from a traditional family; and, in its melancholy and bittersweet emotion, In the Mood for Love, where two lonely people find each other but neither can make the ultimate move to come together.
His father dead, approaching forty, Jeff Mott is drifting across China, because he wants to learn the language. The Chinese agree that his Mandarin is pretty good, but only want to speak English with him. He starts teaching in a small town north of Beijing, and meets a young woman, Wang Bian Fu, and falls in love; however, as they get to know each other, Bian Fu’s family life and emotions seem increasingly more complex and disturbing—there is more to her than he can handle, he senses, something hidden. Their relationship becomes dominated by the walls and back alleys of Beijing, where they find humiliations, surprising differences, and barriers. They become engaged.

In the midst of this, he also mixes with other expatriates where he teaches, and comes to find that there are many ways of being the foreigner in China, the outsider, not all of them savoury. As he teaches his students English, his students teach him that there is much more to being Chinese than language. Classroom spies, things you don’t say, peasants, villages. Above all, there are manners and rules. He begins to miss his young daughter, Melissa.

And then he learns the truth about his Chinese fiancée, a truth concealed behind her considerable deception.

Jeff, his heart divided, has to make a choice, and flies back to Canada, promising to return. Bian Fu promises to solve the barriers to their marriage “in a Chinese way.”

Separated, the lovers continue to plan, through their heated and awkward, long-distance telephone calls, and through the Chinese characters, the ancient poems and proverbs, mangled in Jeff’s fumbling words. As they head towards marriage, Jeff wonders, is it Bian Fu that he loves? or China? or is it that he has imagined both of them as he wishes, not as they are? As Confucius says near the end of the novel, “It is not that I do not love you, it is just that your house is so far away.”

Poignant and ironic, and searchingly funny, It is Just That Your House is So Far Away delivers a Beijing love story and a vision of 1990s China on the edge of globalism.
It is Just That Your House is So Far Away gives a new meaning to the phrase, "love is blind". A tumultuous, unconventional romance combined with the beautiful landscapes of Canada and China offer a brilliant setting for a not-so-perfect romance.
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