一、作者简介

  刘庆邦,1951年生于河南沈丘县农村。当过农民、矿工和记者。现为北京作家协会副主席。著有长篇小说《断层》《远方诗意》《遍地月光》《红煤》等。作品曾获“鲁迅文学奖”“老舍文学奖”。小说《神木》被改编成电影《盲井》,获得第53届“柏林国际电影节”银熊奖。

  二、内容梗概

  离旧历新年还有一个多月,唐朝阳和宋金明在小型火车站物色“点子”。他们的目的是把“点子”带到煤窑,找机会干掉,然后冒充点子的家属,跟煤窑主索赔。他们坐在敞篷的小饭店里,跟服务员开着玩笑,观察着环境和来往的行人。保健羊肉汤刚上来,还没来得及喝,就发现了合适的目标,于是,他们赶紧拿起作为道具的铺盖卷儿和人造革提兜走了过去。

  宋金明从细节中看出目标缺钱,假装借火搭讪,说去煤窑干活,年前一个月能挣九百元。他欲擒故纵,采取钓鱼战术,目标终于上钩,请求宋金明带自己一同去,直到宋金明同意。唐朝阳走过来,假装没买到票,接着抱怨宋金明答应目标。目标名叫元清平,再三恳求,唐朝阳才首肯,但条件是让他改叫“唐朝霞”,并说是自己的亲哥哥。其实这是为了以后讹诈煤窑主做的准备,但目标不懂,没有犹豫就答应了。

  三个人几经辗转向西,来到深山里,找到一家煤窑。通过聊天,宋金明了解了“唐朝霞”的家庭情况,知道他结了婚,有一子一女。窑主经过一番试谈,同意他们下井干活。唐朝阳故意说他们以前在其他煤窑做工,因为事故,煤矿停产了,矿主也被抓走了,为的是给窑主一点信息,以后谈判时有根据。在窑主观察他们干活时,唐朝阳显出跟“唐朝霞”很亲热的样子,获取了信任。几个人还就泡妞问题开起了玩笑。

  到了第四天,三个人一起吃饭喝酒,为的是让“唐朝霞”吃顿好的上路。在井下,宋金明故意把“唐朝霞”的安全帽碰掉,唐朝阳用镐猛击,打死了“唐朝霞”,并且制造了冒顶事故的现场。

  等拉煤的车来了之后,唐朝阳不断哭喊“哥哥”,并把“唐朝霞”从煤堆下挖了出来。窑主来跟唐朝阳谈判,唐朝阳要价六万元,被窑主拒绝了。晚上回到住处,唐、宋两人不敢入睡,准备了砖头在手边。再谈判时,窑主私下给了宋金明两千块钱,让他去说服唐朝阳降价。最后,唐朝阳接受了二万八千块钱,带着“唐朝霞”的遗物和骨灰盒离开。宋金明和唐朝阳一同去宾馆找了小姐,约定年后再见面,互道“好人一生平安”后分手。

  宋金明返乡,恢复了原来的名字赵上河,拿出给子女和妻子买的礼物。晚上跟妻子亲热后,赵上河拿出钱来。妻子要求他不要出去打工了。

  正月十五过后,赵上河还是经受不住诱惑,又出来打工,在约定火车站见到了唐朝阳。两人改了名字,赵上河叫王明君,唐朝阳叫张敦厚。开过玩笑后,张敦厚去找“点子”,带回了一个中学生模样的年轻人。经询问,这个年轻人叫元凤鸣,虚岁才十七岁,父亲出去打工,过年也没有回来,他只好辍学,想帮助妹妹挣学费,顺便寻找父亲。王明君叫元凤鸣改名“王风”,并对外宣称二人是亲叔侄关系。

  三人来到深山里的煤窑,顺利找到了工作,期间,王明君不断照顾“王风”。煤窑底部空气稀薄,温度很高,只好脱了衣服干活,“王风”初次接触这样的环境,有点恐惧和不适应。挖煤出来后洗澡,矿工们因为他刚发育而取笑他。“王风”从井下捡了一块带树叶的煤块,准备拿回家,知道了煤被叫做神木。王明君和张敦厚拿了“王风”寄给家里的信,谎称送到邮局,看后销毁了。王明君和张敦厚把“王风”带到镇上,找了小姐给他按摩,让他死前经历一下女人。

  到了该结束“点子”的时候,王明君几次都没有下手,引起了张敦厚的不满。二人在井下发生了冲突,王明君用镐打死了张敦厚。王明君告诉“王风”,他的父亲就死于他们两个之手。王明君嘱咐“王风”去找窑主索赔,然后制造了塌方事故,自己和张敦厚都埋在里面了。

  元凤鸣并没有索赔,而是说出了井下的真相,拿着窑主给的路费离开了。他不想回家,但是又能去哪里呢?

  三、推荐语

  《神木》用触目惊心的案件,写下了人在善恶之间的选择。小说中的一对搭档不断骗来打工者,并在煤窑下将其杀死,然后冒充死者家人,讹诈煤窑主,以此牟利。其中的一位经受不住灵魂的拷问,逐渐退缩,直到两人产生矛盾、火并,一同死在煤窑下。作品中差一点死掉的男孩元凤鸣, 是单纯善良的象征。但是,作者也不知道他以后是否可以再次逃过劫难。

  小说对人性黑暗的底线有所触碰,但是终究不是绝望。而是保留了悔过和诚实,用以照亮煤矿下浓重的黑暗。

  作者刘庆邦的叙事非常老练,层层深入,不疾不徐,表现出强劲的控制力。

  Magic Wood

  by Liu Qinbang

  Author Profile

  Liu Qinbang, born in Shenqiu County, Henan Province in 1951, has been a farmer, miner and reporter. Now he is vice chairman of the Chinese Writers’ Association, Beijing Branch. His major novels include The Chasms, An idyllic Distant Place, Moonlight Everywhere and Red Coal, some of which have won the Lu Xun Literature Prize and the Lao She Literature Prize. Magic Wood has been adapted into Blind Well, a movie which won the 53rd Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear Award.

  Synopsis

  Nearly a month before Chinese Lunar New Year, Tang Zhaoyang and Song Jinming were at the small train station looking for potential victims – their plan was to bring a guy to the coal mine, find a chance to kill him and claim compensation from the owner, claiming them as their relative. Sitting at the small open-roof restaurant, they cracked jokes with the waiters while observing the surroundings and pedestrians. But before they could have a spoon’s worth of freshly-served mutton soup, they spotted an ideal target. Hastening to gather up their props – bedding rolls and artificial leather bags – they walked over to him.

  Judging from his appearance, Song Jinming understood he was in lack of money. So he pretended to ask for a light and struck up a conversation. He casually mentioned that working in the coal mine could earn 900 yuan a month before the Spring Festival. Finding those wages tantalizing, the guy begged Song to take him along. Song let him beg for a while before finally consenting. When he did, Tang Zhaoyang came up, pretending he couldn’t get his hands on any train tickets and fake-complaining about who Song picked for their job. After letting Song plea for a while, Tang finally agreed but on one condition: The guy should call himself Tang Zhaoxia and pretend to be his blood brother, instead of using his real name of Yuan Qingping. Naturally, these details were just the framework for their future moves. However, the man didn’t suspect a thing, agreeing without the least hesitation.

  The group of three went far west, tackling many obstacles before finally coming to a coal mine in the remote mountains. On the way, Song Jinming got to know a little about Tang Zhaoxia and his family, such as that he was married and had a son and daughter. After a brief interview, the owner agreed to let them work in the well. Tang Zhaoyang purposely mentioned that they had previously worked in another mine, but the mine closed down and the owner arrested following some kind of accident. With that bit of “evidence”, negotiations would go more smoothly once their plan had been enacted. Tang Zhaoyang also acted like best friends with Tang Zhaoxia when the owner was watching, so as to further win his trust. They also had some lively banter about dating girls.

  By the fourth day, the two men treated Tang Zhaoxia to a meal that would serve as his last dinner. Down in the mine, Song Jinming deliberately tipped Tang Zhaoxia’s safety helmet off from atop his head, whereupon Tang Zhaoyang based his head in. Then they doctored the scene to make his death appear an accident thanks to his helmet being off.

  When the coal cart started to come around, Tang Zhaoyang kept crying “Brother… brother!”, and pulled him from under the coal pile. But when he asked for 60,000 yuan in compensation from the boss, he was rejected flat out. Returning to their dwelling place at night, they dared not fall asleep and kept some bricks close at hand in case something bad happened. When talking continued later on, the owner gave Song Jinming 2,000 yuan in private, asking him to talk Tang into reducing the price. Finally, Tang Zhaoyang accepted the 28,000 yuan offered, and left with Tang Zhaoxia’s remains and cremation urn. They went to the hotel to have some fun with prostitutes, made arrangements for when they would meet up after the Spring Festival, and went their separate ways, saying to each other “May kind people be blessed with life-long peace.”

  Once returning to his hometown, Song Jinming starting using his real name of Zhao Shanghe again, and gave his wife and kids presents. And after having sex with his wife, he took out the money he had earned. His wife begged him not to work outside of town anymore.

  But when the Lantern Festival concluded, Zhao Shanghe couldn’t resist the itch to leave home and find more work. He met Tang Zhaoyang at the station as promised. They chose new names again, with Zhao Shanghe going by the alias Wang Mingjun while Tang Zhaoyuan went by Zhang Dunhou. After a little teasing back and forth, Zhang Dunhou went to find yet another “suitable candidate”, this time bringing back a young man who looked like he could be in middle school. They learned that his name was Yuan Fengming and that was just barely seventeen years old. Since his father didn’t come back from his migrant work for the Spring Festival, he had to quit school to earn tuition money for his younger sister as well as search for his father. Wang Mingjun had him use the name Wang Feng, and would introduce him to others as his nephew.

  The three came to the coal mine in the remote mountains again, finding jobs fairly easily. Wang Mingjun made sure to take good care of Wang Feng during this time. The working conditions there were fairly harsh – the air was so thin and the temperature so high at the bottom of the coal mine that they had to take some clothes off. This was Wang Feng’s first time working in such an environment, so he felt uneasy and somewhat afraid. What’s worse was that other miners would mock him for his immature body when in the showers after coal-digging. He picked up a leafy coal brick and was ready to take it home since he’d learned that this type of coal was called magic wood.

  Wang Feng had originally prepared a letter to send to his family back home, but Wang Mingjun and Zhang Dunhou lied when they said they’d take it to the post office – really, they had read and destroyed it. Afterwards, they brought Wang Feng into town, finding a whore to massage him so that he’d experience a woman’s touch again before his death.

  When it was time to end the guy’s life, Wang Mingjun simply couldn’t bring himself to do it. After trying several times, Zhang Dunhou started to become impatient, and they began arguing. And with a strike of a pickax, Wang Mingjun killed Zhang Dunhou. Mingjun told Wang Feng that really they were the people that killed his father. He then urged Wang Feng to deliberately cause an accident to bury him and Zhang Dunhou, then claim compensation from the owner.

  But Yuan Fengming (Wang Feng) didn’t do so. Instead, he told the owner the truth as to what’d been going on, and left with some money for the road given to him by the owner. He didn’t want to go home, but where else could his feet take him now?

  Reviews

  Through its shocking episodes, Magic Wood deals with peoples’ choice between good and evil. In it, two business partners have a system for making money – leading innocent migrant workers to their deaths to extort accident damages. But one of them eventually caves in to his guilt, which causes a fight with his partner and ultimately their deaths. Yuan Fengming, the boy who makes it out alive in this novel symbolizes kindness in its most simplest of forms. However, even the author can’t be certain he will escape similar disaster again in the future.

  The novel touches on the purest of human evils, but doesn’t tack toward doom or despair. Instead, it retains a sense of repentance and honesty so as to light the blanket of darkness surrounding the coal mine.

  The author, Liu Qinbang, is very sophisticated in his narrative skill. He leads readers to the story’s inner depths with great ease, demonstrating powerful control of the subject matter.


[责任编辑:只丹玮]