China's largest lake in Hunan Province. Viewed from Yueyanglou looking out at 君山島 Junshandao.|
"Dongting Lake was like a huge pond with green, rocky islands in some places, and vast mudbank shallows and reed marshes in others, and clouds of white water birds that flew up screaming as the San Pablo thumped by their feeding grounds. In most places the lake had no definite shore, instead grading off into reed marsh, but near the Chien River the hills came right down to the lake, very steeply. They said the lake was really a big overflow basin for the rivers and it almost dried up in winter.
The currents ran brown along the drowned river beds, but in the shallos the mud settled out and the water was blue and green, depending on how the sunlight hit it. Breezes could roughen the water in little skipping dark spots here and there and a wind could roughen the whole surface and pick up a million glints from the sun, but there were no waves. It was very different from cruising on the ocean. The ocean was serious.The Chinese thought there were mermaids in Dongting Lake, but Franks said he had seen them and they were white porpoises. No one knew what porpoises were doing there, so far from the ocean. Probably the fresh water had bleached them. It was supposed to be bad luck to sight a white porpoise."
The Sand Pebbles by Richard McKenna, one of the 20th Century's best novels, a Best Seller set in the 1925-1927 period of revolutionary China. Later the Sand Pebbles was re-published by the Naval Institute Press, a bit surprising because it is an indictment of shipboard life. ("The navy would not let an enlisted man marry until he was a second-class petty officer, and by then he was supposed to know better. If he didn't, he had better not expect any official favors just because he had a wife. Good sailors were supposed to make do with whores.")"
From Richard McKenna's 1963 novel, The Sand Pebbles which won the $10,000 Harper Prize, spent 28 weeks on the New York Times’ Best-Seller List, was selected for the Book-of-the-Month Club and was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post. Three year later it was made into Sand Pebbles the movie starring Steve McQueen in a great performance.