A Far Corner

A Far Corner

Life and Art with the Open Circle Tribe

Scott Ezell

344 pages
1 map, 2 appendixes

Hardcover

February 2015

978-0-8032-6522-6

$27.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In 2002, after living ten years in Asia, American poet and musician Scott Ezell used his advance from a local record company to move to Dulan, on Taiwan’s remote Pacific coast. He fell in with the Open Circle Tribe, a loose confederation of aboriginal woodcarvers, painters, and musicians who lived on the beach and cultivated a living connection with their indigenous heritage. Most members of the Open Circle Tribe belong to the Amis tribe, which is descended from Austronesian peoples that migrated from China thousands of years ago. As a “nonstate” people navigating the fraught politics of contemporary Taiwan, the Amis of the Open Circle Tribe exhibit, for Ezell, the best characteristics of life at the margins, striving to create art and to live autonomous, unorthodox lives.

 

In Dulan, Ezell joined song circles and was invited on an extended hunting expedition; he weathered typhoons, had love affairs, and lost close friends. In A Far Corner Ezell draws on these experiences to explore issues on a more global scale, including the multiethnic nature of modern society, the geopolitical relationship between the United States, Taiwan, and China, and the impact of environmental degradation on indigenous populations. The result is a beautifully crafted and personal evocation of a sophisticated culture that is almost entirely unknown to Western readers.

 

Author Bio

Scott Ezell is a writer and artist living in California and Asia. He is the author of Petroglyph Americana and the chapbook Hanoi Rhapsodies, and is the editor and coauthor of Songs from a Yahi Bow.

Praise

"[Ezell] immortalizes individuals who might be thought to have little claim to immortality of any kind. This kind of awareness is found in some of the finest books, and one of several reasons why A Far Corner is so magnificent, and so richly deserving of classic status."—Bradley Winterton, Tapei Times

“This is a marvelous journey into the worlds of indigenous peoples in the coastal, seaside mountains of Taiwan, pursuing their age-old habits in the backwaters of empires, Chinese and Japanese, old and modern. Ezell, a young American musician and poet, writes with fine story-telling skill.”—John Balaban, author of Remembering Heaven’s Face

 


“Scott Ezell is a highly talented, very imagistic writer who packs his work with action and colorful sensory-driven details. He has a knack for showing us a people from an insider as well as an outsider perspective. Ezell writes in a beautiful, lyrical prose style that is colorful and full of texture and emotion.”—Mark Spitzer, author of Season of the Gar


“Reading Scott Ezell’s A Far Corner I gradually became absorbed and actually delighted. Like true adventures this story is about something which, chances are, you will know nothing and consequently become pleasurably informed.”—Jim Harrison, author of Returning to Earth
 


“There’s magic in this brilliant, lyrical, and deeply informed ethnography. Ezell, happily, never gets in the way of the Austronesian artists, musicians, and craftsmen whose self-conscious recreation and performance of indigenous identity he has so closely and sympathetically observed. So much comprehension has rarely come with so much pleasure and satisfaction.”—James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University

Table of Contents

Preface: A Far Corner

1. E-ki on the Beach

2. The Sugar Factory

3. Dinner with the Chief

4. A House at the End of the Road

5. Beneath the Skin

6. Carving a Carving Knife

7. Between the City and the Sea

8. Purification

9. Hinoki Studio

10. Songs of the Amis

11. Big and Small Things

12. A Woodcarver

13. Hunting with the Bunun

A Gift of the Spirits

New and Old Growth

Takivahlas: Place Where Two Rivers Meet

Down the Mountain

14. Live Music

15. Shelter from the Sun

16. Coupled Orbits

17. The Chief Is Dead

18. An Apartment in Town

19. Homecomings

20. A Long Swim

21. Betel Nut Brothers

22. E-ki on the Boulevard

23. E-ki across the Ocean

24. Departure

Epilogue: Further Fields

Acknowledgments

Appendix 1: Romanization, Names, Transcription, and Currency

Appendix 2: A Note on Ethnic Classifications

Selected Bibliography

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