MIKE YUNXUAN LI

An LSAT of Culture

As a standardized test, the LSAT is unique in that it’s not an exam of knowledge but a series of logical puzzles. I think LSAT questions (especially those in the Logical Reasoning section) do a great job at forcing us to be conscious of our assumptions. Assumptions form the foundation of our day-to-day interactions, and they are for the most part implicit. This story is a hybrid of an LSAT Logical Reasoning question and an LSAT Reading Comprehension passage. 

Please read the passage and brief statement below. The question that follows is based on the reasoning contained in the passage and statement. The correct answer is the response that most accurately and completely answers the question. You should not make assumptions that are by commonsense standards implausible, superfluous, or incompatible with the passage and/or statement.

 

Mr. Lin is one of Mr. Wang’s most efficient and valuable partners. In each of the past three years, Mr. Lin, on his own, has generated at least $2.5 million in revenue for the company, and this is excluding the indirect impacts he’s had on the franchise, such as scouting the right talents at the right time, brand-building, and fostering a healthy relationship among co-workers that does not involve the words cao ni ma and qu ni da ye de. Due to his outstanding, if not extraordinary performance, Mr. Wang offered to buy him a luxury sports car. 

“No, Old Wang, I can’t take it,” Mr. Lin said, pushing away the sports car pamphlet in Mr. Wang’s hands. 

“Oh, come on Old Lin, this is the bare minimum I can do to show my appreciation,” Mr. Wang said, pushing the pamphlet back to Mr. Lin. “Pick one.”

“You know I’m not all about the money, Old Wang. Seeing our company get better each and every day is what motivates me,” Mr. Lin said. He took the pamphlet and slid it into Mr. Wang’s pants pocket.

“Okay, fine, I know you’re a clean fella. How about this: It’s almost Christmas, and I will add $50,000 to your end-of-year bonus. You have to give me some face, Old Lin.” Mr. Wang placed a hand in his own pocket and shoved the pamphlet deeper in. 

Mr. Lin stared at the half-lit cigarette between his fingers, looking troubled. Then he looked up at Mr. Wang, let out a deep sigh, and said, “All right, if you so insist. Why you always gotta be so courteous, Old Wang?”

The two men laughed, patted each other on the shoulder, and went on to talk about other things. 

On the night of the end-of-the-year banquet, after everyone had already left, a buzzed Mr. Wang came up to Mr. Lin. 

“Old Lin, I was thinking,” Mr. Wang called, his tone as cordial as ever, “our company will be in a bit of a tight spot next year. We have the Infinity One project and the Flying Tiger project lined up. We really need to save up. You’ll surely understand if I temporarily withhold $10,000 from your bonus, right? The remainder is still plenty.”

Mr. Lin patted Mr. Wang on the back and smiled, “Of course, Old Wang. I already told you I’m not all about the money.” 

“That’s good,” Mr. Wang said, “That’s good.” The two men walked together to the station, all the while laughing and joking about the evening’s events. 

When Mr. Lin returned home, he ignored his wife, disregarded his children’s greetings, and headed directly to his bedroom. Once the door was shut behind him, he threw a wine glass across the room, shattering it into pieces. He shouted, “Cao ni ma, qu ni da ye de, you short, little fat fuck.”

The above was the draft of a story I submitted to a flash fiction workshop. After my fellow American writers had finished reading it, they nodded, grinned, and moaned in a way that poets do after hearing a delicious sequence of words. Yet, during the critique session, mostly everybody was silent; they kept on flipping back and forth between the pages, scratching their heads, as if searching for something in my story. Of the two writers that did comment, one suggested I flesh out the characters a bit more. “Wang and Lin are such interesting people. I so want to learn more about them.” The other asked what kind of sports cars were in the pamphlet that Mr. Wang originally handed to Mr. Lin. “My wife drives a Maserati, and I tell ya, it’s a heck of a lot more expensive than $50,000.” 

 

Which of the following statements, if true, would most help to explain the apparent discrepancy in both the aspiring writer’s story and his experience in the flash fiction workshop?

(A) Despite what Mr. Lin says, he is actually all about the money.

(B) Despite Mr. Wang’s courtesies, he doesn’t actually want to give Mr. Lin any money—not even a penny. 

(C) Despite what it seems to suggest, the whole point of the $50,000 is to show that Mr. Wang actually lowered his initial offer of the sports car (in a rather unobtrusive and shady manner, of course).

(D) Despite what the aspiring writer may believe, he is not actually a good writer, and his story is not of publishable quality.

(E) It’s often said that the Great Dragon of the East has a beautiful and rich history of 5,000 years, and in the realms of this intricate culture, one frequently has to say the opposite of what he wants and leave his true intentions to the common sense of the interpreter. It’s often said that the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave is one that values freedom of speech and press. This is a nation founded on justice and liberty, and after nearly two hundred and fifty years of development, the land has become a melting pot of cultures and traditions with opportunities for various people to thrive. Yet despite what is often said and their sincere efforts, the writers in the aspiring writer’s workshop ultimately failed to give a shit about his story.

Mike Yunxuan Li’s writings have appeared or are forthcoming in The Normal School, Tahoma Literary Review, Fourth Genre, Berkeley Fiction Review, and other publications. He likes music from the classic rock era and is an enthusiast of vinyl records.

MORE FROM AUTUMN 2022 (4:2)

INTERVIEW

A Conversation with Seif-Eldeine Och, Poetry Chapbook Winner, Mark Blackford, Chapbook Editor

PROSE

An LSAT of Culture, Mike Yunxuan Li
Chichi and I, Noel Cheruto
Sudden Evolution, Eileen Tomarchio
Paying for It, Lana Hall
Decay, Rachel Lastra

POETRY

do you see me, Maya Hersh
Delineation of a Woman’s First Child as Her True Religion, Abduljalal Musa Aliyu
Busted Cantaloupe: Pilgrim, Isibeal Owens
Pray the Elegy, Njoku Nonso
Semper Augustus, Jessie Zechnowitz Lim
THE SEA SQUIRT LOSES ITS MIND, Claire Scott
The Long Call of Yearning, Guy D’Annolfo
Djinn and Men, Biswadarshan Mohanty
Last Communion, Joan Kwon Glass