Monthly Archives: May 2013

On “The Death of Ivan Ilych”: The Master Chef and His Famous Consomme

The Death of Ivan Ilych And Other StoriesThe Death of Ivan Ilych And Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say? Tolstoy is the master.

A master Chinese chef once served a consomme at the end of a meal. (This is not a strange thing in China. The Cantonese are the only group of people who eat soups at the start of a meal. People elsewhere in China do the opposite.)

Everyone marveled at how delicious and wonderful the consomme tasted. The inquisitive ones begged the chef for the secret recipe.

“Plain boiled water with some unseasoned leaves of green,” the chef said.

After a full meal of extraordinary flavors, diners palate crave for plain and clean taste.

Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilych” is that master chef’s consomme. It is as basic as water, yet as refreshing and life-sustaining as water.

I did not read “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” I re-read it now and then. In one of my not-so-subtle short fiction, titled “A Eulogy for Edwin Bogardus,” I could not help alluding to this book. “A Eulogy for Edwin Bogardus” is one of the short fiction in my collection “Bitter Tea and Braided Hair.” (

View all my reviews

An Amazon TOP 500 REVIEWER Reviews The Cicada Survival Guide


I woke up to some blessing this morning. Robin Lee, who wears Amazon’s coveted “TOP 500 REVIEWER” badge, has read “The Cicada Survival Guide” and given it a professional review. You can see the book’s review page here:

Robin said the following about the book:


“Biological Weapons”

This author wrote an excellent novella in a unique way..It is a mixed recipe, of an escaped man made virus, government conspiracy, cover-ups, and the emergence of Brood II….Which Scientists predict this year, the Cicadas will be in colossal numbers….It’s not just a survival guide, but a possible real depiction of an ecological disaster…This story is dark humor, intriguing, gross, thought provoking and real horrifying….The characters could have been fleshed out more but for this part of the story they are not the main point……Each new chapter is told from the characters view point…..

Through the yrs a biological infectious agent has seeped into the fungus of the trees…The Cicadas have been feeding off this for 17 dormant years….It has been named “Troma” and the bugs are brand new mutations, that Americans are unaware of…This new species smells the scent of blood and seeks it out…If you have a open cut, you better hide, because this is a blood born pathogen of death….The symptoms are: severe itchiness, complete disintegration of your body, eventually takes command of your brain and drives you insane….It takes 72 hrs for the full effect….
This is not a zombie novel because the infected don’t reanimate, they just become deadly killers in every way….

Warning: If you see a large Cicada with bright red blood colored metallic wings, instead of their green ones, you better run fast…..

This novel was just excellent.I hope this author thinks about continuing this as a series for the summer it has really great potential..I personally would like to see a Part 2 and 3……

US Senators Refuse to Give China Face

Influential US senators have showed their support in a provision that grants 5,000 visa to Tibetan refuges living in India and Nepal. This provision will be included as an amendment in the landmark immigration reform bill still under debate. The amendment, offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein and cosponsored by Chairman Patrick Leahy and Senator Chuck Schumer, was approved by voice vote and included in the immigration reform bill currently under consideration in the US Senate.

This is more or less a slap across China’s face; and the timing is adding insult to an injury as China’s newly installed President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet President Obama in a couple of weeks at the Leonore Annenberg estate in California. In fact, slapping China across the face for the sake of Tibet may have been the senators’ intention. As republican Senator Chuck Grassley put it, “On this issue I don’t mind irritating China,” according to a GlobaPost report. (See details here.)

This is more or less a direct reaction to about 110 Tibetans losing their lives to self-immolation in protest of Chinese rule since 2009. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been accused by the Chinese government for encouraging self-immolation. At the same time, the Dalai Lama has not called upon his people to stop such self-sacrifice, though many believe that he has the power to stop it. Washington Post’s columnist Sally Quinn has recently peeled open the complexity of this issue in her opinion piece titled “The Dalai Lama’s compassion disconnect.”

Self-immolation weighs heavy on everyone’s mind. It’s just such a horrific scene to behold, such a gruesome tale to regale. In the title story of my short fiction collection, “Bitter Tea and Braided Hair,” I made a valiant attempt to depict one such incident. And apparently it’s done a good job telling a difficult story, because multiple online ezines have re-printed it and it has also been turned into a Podcast. You owe yourself to check it out:

Ironically, even with such affirmative advantage, we will see far fewer Tibetan immigrate to US than Chinese. First off, compared to the Tibetans, there is a much larger Chinese diaspora population in US which sponsors far more legal Chinese immigrants than Tibetan ones. Secondly, swarms of rich Chinese are buying their way into US.

Each year, the US Congress grants 12,000 permanent green cards to foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in US, in a business that creates no less than 10 new jobs. In the fiscal year of 2012, the US issued roughly 8500 such millionaire-investor visas. Guess what? 80% of those were given to investors from China. The Chinese are picking up these green cards like you and I are picking up a chicken salad sandwich from our local deli. It has gotten to such crazy level that the US congress has been talking about capping the visas given to Chinese millionaires with a “China quota.”

You can find this and other fascinating stories about China in my book “Revolution Is a Dinner Party — Rogue Pluralism in China.”

Free Book on Amazon: The Cicada Survival Guide


Any day now, billions of winged insects will rise up and swarm over the entire East Coast? Are we ready?

Troma is ready for us. She’s been underground for 17 years, while inside of her a deadly virus is slowly turning this queen cicada into a cannibalistic mastermind with one goal: To infect the human race.

It’s them against us in this fun sci-fi novella, which also includes the adventures of a CIA agent, Russian counterspy and unlucky FBI officer as they battle the swarm. Recipes are included for those inclined to culinary adventure.

Thank you for your consideration. Info about the book is here

About the author:

M. Eigh was born in China and, before getting an MBA, he received a BSc from China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, where most modern day Chinese ruling elites obtain their academic pedigree. But the alma mater is about the only thing he has in common with the techno-dictators of today’s China.

In his younger days, M. Eigh was a published poet in Chinese; at the age of fifteen, he won the first-place award in a prefecture-wide youth literature competition. He can be found at

He’s on Facebook:

He tweets at:

Readers say:

“This author wrote an excellent novella in a unique way.”

“creepy fun with spy overtones.”

“I survived, and I want to read more!”

“Gripping plot!”

“Such an interesting story.”

“Waiting For Part 2 & 3, If Available…”

Charity Starts from a Deep Pocket

In his 2010 People’s Choice Awards acceptance speech, Keith Urban blared out: “I don’t even care if you guys download my music illegally. I really don’t care. …”

At the time when I heard it on TV, I was quite impressed. After all, what connects him and his fans or audience is the music they all love. He was extending his charity to people on the worng side of the moral divide, to people who stole from him. It’s noblesse oblige.

It also reflected wisdom. After all, people who are hell-bent to steal will steal. People who can’t afford to pay have to steal. There are also people who can afford to buy, but given the chance to steal, may opt to steal. Sometimes, you just have to turn a blind eye on things. You can’t take what what’s right and what’s wrong too seriously. There is an ancient Chinese saying: If a body of water is purified, no fish can survive in it; if a man is morally viglant to the extreme, he has no firends. Keith Urban’s got it. Or as the buddhists may put it: he has seen it through.

It all sounded good to me, until today. I googled my own name “M. Eigh” this morning and a dozen piracy sites popped up, offering torrents(peer-hosted free downloads) of my books. “The Cicada Survival Guide,” “Bitter Tea and Braided Hair” and “Revolution Is a Dinner Party — Rogue Pluralism in China” are all in the offer. That’s when I realized that Keith Urban’s nonchalance comes at a steep sticker price. And when it is you who have to pay that price, it is not easy to feel as charitable as Mr. Keith Urban.

I’m not a rich man. Far from it. I could use the sales that have been lost to those free download. On the other hand, some of those who download my books free are from China, where a mere $2.99 translates to about ¥20 which is more than what a regular trade paperback book costs in China. Plus, due to government censorship, these books are not available in regular online market places like Amazon. And yet plus again, most Chinese do not have a foreign bank issued credit card and are not able to pay for foreign online purchases. Those are people who would never buy my books. For what it is worth, I am mighty glad that they get a chance to download and read them.

Against this backdrop, I’ve come to appreciate more the $0.99 or $2.99 they spent on my books. When they buy a book by M. Eigh, they are not only engaging in a generous act, but also a righteous one. To those who have ever purchased my books (the ebooks online and the paperbacks in Metro stations and parks,) I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Check out my humble Amazon author page when you get a chance:

The Silver Lining of a Swarmageddon: Cicadas Are Perfectly Edible

Well, the full title of this post should be “The Silver Lining of a Swarmageddon for a Third World Country.” According to a White Paper released by UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), insects are perfectly edible and should make up a good portion of mankind’s diet. If everyone in America substitutes a beef burger with a handful of insects once a month, our collective carbon footprint will be reduced by a whopping 5%! (Not an official statistics, just my own guesstimate. )

The FAO report, entitled “Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security” and available online at, unequivocally lists cicada as one of the premium choice of an insect diet. On page fifteen of the report, it states, under the heading of “The role of insects”:

(Many more recipes are offered in The Cicada Survival Guide.)

It is estimated that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people. More than 1 900 species have reportedly been used as food. Insects deliver a host of ecological services that are fundamental to the survival of humankind. They also play an important role as pollinators in plant reproduction, in improving soil fertility through waste bioconversion,and in natural biocontrol for harmful pest species, and they provide a variety of valuable products for humans such as honey and silk and medical applications such as maggot therapy.

In addition, insects have assumed their place in human cultures as collection items and ornaments and in movies, visual arts and literature. Globally, the most commonly consumed insects are beetles (Coleoptera) (31 percent), caterpillars (Lepidoptera) (18 percent) and bees, wasps and ants (Hymenoptera) (14 percent). Following these are grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (Orthoptera) (13 percent), cicadas, leafhoppers, planthoppers, scale insects andtrue bugs (Hemiptera) (10 percent), termites (Isoptera) (3 percent), dragonflies (Odonata) (3 percent), flies (Diptera) (2 percent) and other orders (5 percent).

The FAO report is literally littered with the word “cicada”, “cicadas” and “cicadidae.” Apparently, in many countries or regions, cicadas constitute part of people’s regular diet. The report cites Lao People’s Democratic Republic, island of New Guinea as examples of places where people eat cicadas. The report even showcases the “diversity” of insects that go into people’s diet in the Central African Republic, where cicadas and crickets, along with some minor bugs, constitute a whopping 8% of their insectile diet.

Now that we’ve got the “are cicadas really safe to eat” question out of the way, it’s time to get prepared for the sarmageddon. As Confucius says, if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em!

Tomorrow, I will post a killer cicada recipe. Or you can check out the many fascinating cicada recipes recorded in my Sci Fi novella, “The Cicada Survival Guide,” now on sale on Amazon.

M. Eigh

Cicada Recipe: Cicada Poppers

Serves four.

•    1 & 1/2 cups cicadas, peeled and cleaned
•    2 eggs, beaten
•    1 cup cornstarch
•    1/2 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
•    3 cups vegetable oil

(Many more recipes are offered in The Cicada Survival Guide.)

•    Place the cornstarch, eggs and bread crumbs in separate containers. Coat the cicadas with cornstarch; then eggs, then bread crumbs.
•    In a deep frying pan or wok, heat oil to about 400°(if the oil starts to smoke, you’ve heated it to too high a temperature.) Fry coated cicadas in few batches, for 5 minutes or until golden brown each. Drain on paper towels.

Serve the poppers with ketchup or cocktail sauce.

(Many more recipes are offered in The Cicada Survival Guide.)

Cicada Recipe: Double Sauteed Nymphs

The young cicada nymphs harvested mid-molting offer the most tender texture and deserve a cooking method that best preserves their natural moisture and injects a balanced blend of flavor.
What can better achieve that end than the double sauté method?

(Many more recipes are offered in The Cicada Survival Guide.)

Cookware: This dish is first parboiled in a deep pot and then fried in a wok.

Serves four.

·    1 tablespoon of sake or cooking wine of any type
·    2 tablespoons of canola or other type of vegetable oil
·    6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
·    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root.
·    1 thumb-sized fresh ginger root. Flatten it between two cutting boards, or simply smash it flat with a cleaver
·    2 cups large cicada nymphs, peeled and cleaned
·    1/2 cup soy sauce.
·    1 tablespoon brown sugar
·    1 teaspoon rice vinegar
·    1 tablespoon Chinese miso or Japanese miso paste
·    2 stalks finely chopped leeks

·    Place flattened ginger root in a deep soup pot. Add two quarts of water and bring to a boil. Place cicada nymphs into the boiling water, turn down the fire to low and let the pot simmer for 5 minutes. Drain when done. Caution: Never put any salt in the pot, as salt will dehydrate the nymphs and rob them of their natural moisture.
·    Heat the vegetable oil in a wok, then add the minced ginger and chopped garlic. Add soy sauce and give the mix a good swirl and stir before you add in the drained nymphs.
·    Add sake or cooking wine and keep stirring over high heat. Add brown sugar and vinegar and stir. Finally, add miso paste and stir vigorously.
·    Add chopped leeks and stir for 30 seconds.

Double sautéed nymphs go well with brown or white rice, cuscus, quinoa, nan or roti.
Enhancement tips:
Double sautéed nymphs can be easily spiced up when placed onto individual serving plates. Simply sprinkle Japanese Nichimi Togarashi (seven-flavor spice) to taste.
Double sautéed nymphs go well with pretty much all alcoholic beverages.

check out many other cicada recipes in The Cicada Survival Guide.

The Cicadas Are Coming!

The cicadas are coming. Brood II Periodical Cicadas are coming!

A swarm of Brood II cicadas brought down an elevator in an apartment building, turned a Secret Service agent into a murderer, attacked a CIA agent on the steps of the Capital Hill … More importantly, they were carriers of something lethal.

Do you want to know why the government has launched a massive aerial insecticide spray in an attempt to wipe the cicadas out? Do you even know how to defend yourself with taser shakes? If you don’t, better pick up a copy of “The Cicada Survival Guide” today.

For those brave enough, a victory can be celebrated with a feast on these bugs. Delicious and battle-tested cicada recipes included!

Pick up a survival guide today.

Cicada horrors and delicious cicada recipes go really well in this book!