Other digressions within the main narrative include the stories of friends who have also lost fathers, an introduction to Taiwan's butterfly industry and the use of butterfly wings to make collages, a view of the Japanese use of bicycles in the invasion of Malaya, and stories about the wartime use of elephants in the jungles of Burma and Taipei Zoo's famous Lin Wang. And in the background is more mundane history: the loss of villages and neighbourhoods to development and urban sprawl, steady social change, and the effects of modernity on indigenous peoples. (An afterward discusses how the original text used Taiwanese, Tsou and Japanese as well as Mandarin).
This somehow all holds together, with a logic of its own: The Stolen Bicycle is a spiralling exploration of memory and history, individual, familial and social. For the foreigner, it also works as a kind of introduction to the modern history of Taiwan. And it's an enjoyable story.
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