The story begins on a train held up by a storm. The man, called C., is on a journey into an unkwn frontier. He finds a pill in his pocket, swallows it, and a hallucination begins. In the next scene, C. has a discussion with a prostitute. She asks him about his hand, which is missing two fingers, and he replies evasively. Next, the story takes up the Clerk, as C. the child is called. Igring his mother's call, Clerk stands over the crib of the baby who died, lost in dreams of absolute liberation. He meets the Bawa, who is tied to Clerk in a way he never comes to understand. Gradually, C.'s emotional origins are coming into focus. As the chapters accumulate, piecing together a trauma that created this older man, trapped in a city that reflects his own sense of isolation. However, as C. has begun to thaw, to become conscious of his mochromatic world, he is confronted with the stranger of himself. He begins to search of salvaging himself. In an urban montage of dwarfs, prostitutes, pimps, and illustrious providers of goods of dubious legality, he secures pills and papers and keys to his liberation. He stumbles upon the City of a Hundred Gibbets, a place of hidden curses and gold. At last, from the embrace of gray wings, C. reaches out to the last angel who might save him. After the fashion of a Native American conception of storytelling, the story of Clerk, or C. is unfolds with interrelated story cycles rather than chrologically.
Finley J. MacDonald lives in Changchun, Jilin Province, China and currently works at Changchun Television Station and Northeast Normal University. His first book, a work of narrative poetry, is entitled The House of Violence. He is at work on a translation of collected poems by the Chinese poet Haizi and a second novel.