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The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P

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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  97 ratings  ·  23 reviews
The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P is a highly acclaimed work of fiction that won Japans most prestigious literary prize for women writers. A provocative, picaresque spin on a coming-of-age story, the novel tells of a young Japanese woman who wakes up one afternoon to discover that her big toe has turned into a penis. In learning to adjust to her new sexual organ, the heroine ...more
Hardcover, 447 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Kodansha (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

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Kyle Muntz
The main thing to know about this is the premise: Matsuura takes some cues from Kafka's metamorphasis, but instead of Gregor Samsa waking up as an insect, a young Japanese woman wakes up and her big toe has turned into a penis. When her homophobic boyfriend (who feels initially disgusted by her toe-penis, then eventually threatened by its size now that he sees her as a "man") tries to chop it off, she leaves him to go on a (mostly sexual) journey of self-discovery, which begins with a blind pian ...more
Jamie
This book caught my eye when I was importing the catalog record from OCLC. The subject code 650 was Penis fiction. Intrigued, I read the dust jacket, which described this as a tale of a young woman who wakes up one morning to find her big toe has become a penis. This creates many changes in her life, and she sets off exploring her sexuality and learns quite a bit about herself in the process.

I really enjoyed this bizarre novel. Warning: it's not the kind of book you want to read while eating foo
...more
Valette Keller
I grabbed this book at the library book sale, intrigued by the premise of waking up with a penis for a big toe. As one character puts it, "If you change your body, your state of mind changes." This theme is repeated through many characters: the main character with her new toe penis, a M-to-F transgender, a man with an extra penis, and a blind man. The story challenges traditional sexual and gender roles and preconceptions. But instead of demonstrating this through the story, the majority of the ...more
A
Feb 26, 2010 A rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: read-2010
Translated from the Japanese original "How to Extoll the Virtues of Fingerbanging in the Most Un-Fun Way Possible." Yes, this really IS a book about a woman whose toe becomes a penis, leading her to join a traveling Geek Love-style freaky sex show. But those expecting Katherine Dunn's (or even Haruki Murakami's) patentedly queasy mix of titillation, repulsion, and emotion should look elsewhere. Though each sentence just thrums with deviancy and sex shenanigans, this is NOT erotica, and at times ...more
Ere K.
Più che un romanzo sull'omosessualità o sulle devianze, o su qualunque altro termine stravagante possa venire in mente ai più, credo che questo sia un libro sulla liberazione da una certa idea di sessualità. Quella comune e trita, quella che è "così" perché "deve essere così", orientamento sessuale a prescindere. Non che si debba tutti provare ad entrare in un circo bizzarro pieno di fenomeni da baraccone, nel quale il sesso viene messo su un palcoscenico per il piacere di un pubblico che gode d ...more
morbidflight
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Stefania
This is a very bizarre novel!! But I really liked it!
It is about a young woman who wakes up one normal morning to find a penis instead of her big toe! From then on her normal mundane sex life as well as her whole life take out an abnormal path! Her life starts revolving around strange sexual encounters. She befriends the Flower Show which is made up of people who also suffer from sexual abnormalities. Although this book is about sex and penises it rarely does anything to get the reader in the m
...more
Louis
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Jesse Baker
Say Gregor Samsa awoke that morning not as a cockroach but as a young, mild-mannered, Japanese woman, wholly unremarkable except that the big toe on her right foot transformed overnight into a penis—so she flees her homophobic fiancé, falls in love with a bisexual blind pianist and joins a troupe of sexually deformed misfits whose live performances conjure images of Sade and Bataille. Yet somehow this occurs within a sweetly unsentimental bildungsroman that reads more like Francine Prose than Ka ...more
kate
i got about halfway through before matsuura's transphobia & unyielding, outdated approach to gender became wholly intolerable. a shame, though -- i was pretty excited about this book. the premise is interesting enough: a young woman wakes up one day & realizes that one of her big toes has been transformed into a penis. i've been pretty obsessed lately with the concept of the phallus, so i was willing to forgive the book's wooden prose & plodding pace. then the protagonist joins a per ...more
Wyatt
I made it through Big Toe P without feeling disappointed. It was odd/steamy enough to keep me intrigued yet it was also exploratory in the sense that the overall tone and presentation of the book felt (appropriately) foreign. The surreal premise was matched by a ever- rational, almost draining play-by-play--a moment-to-moment update of the characters' dynamics of mutual attractions, conflicts, etc. I'm sure that there is a cultural underpinning to her tight adherence her mode of writing I hope t ...more
Romina Carboni
In italiano lo trovate con il titolo di: l'alluce P
Lori Botterman
Crazy -- part erotic, part social commentary. I'm not at all sure who I would recommend this to. A story of a young Japanese woman who wakes up to find her big toe has become a functioning penis is just not for everyone. Hidden in the bizarre story are some insights into sexuality and relationships that take this beyond erotica.
Ana Silva Rosa
Prose style: 5
Plot: 5
Depth of characters: 5
Originality: 5
Entertaining: 5
Emotional Reaction: 5
Intellectual Stimulation: 4

I want to re-read it. And then re-read again. And re-read it, and re-read it a thousand times. I'm so attached to this book. It was the first book I fell in love with.
oriana
Feb 23, 2010 oriana marked it as to-read
from the McNally Jackson site: The novel is a strange exploration of gender and control, the premise being simply that a woman wakes up to discover that one of her toes has become a penis. Yes, that is correct. It reads like a more sexually engaged Murakami, and is funny, too.

OMG what??
Eric Oldboy
Not as sexually out there as one would expect from a story about a girl with a penis for a toe. Still it was an original twist on the whole loving yourself concept. Which in any other case, would have bored me to tears.
Robin
Apr 08, 2010 Robin marked it as to-read
I'm not sure I'll ever actually read this since I skimmed this on my lunch hour, but how can I resist adding a book to my list about a young woman who wakes up to find her big toe has turned into a penis?
Roberta
Has the particular, somewhat aloof style of writing I've noted in most of post-modern Japanese literature (at least in translation). Certainly an interesting premise and a curious setting.
Carola
2.5 stars, I suppose. It wasn't a good book, but it wasn't too bad either. It could have been much better. One way or another, I will definitely remember it.
Jenielle
Dec 03, 2013 Jenielle marked it as to-read
(borrowing this as soon as i get membership access to the japan foundation library: this is just TOO bizarre!!!)
Robotchris
A really different kind of coming age book that also deals with love and sex and everything in between.
Matthew
strange combination of the outlandish and the prosaic
joshua
starts off great...
Helen
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Dec 26, 2014
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Rieko Matsuura (松浦 理恵子) was born on August 7, 1958 inMatsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

She studied at Aoyama Gakuin University of Liberal Arts and is a postmodern novelist.

She went from Marugame West Middle School to Kagawa Prefecture Otemae Middle School, a private school in the area. Matsuura attended Aoyama Gakuin University where she majored in French literature. In her teens, she had read Ma
...more
More about Rieko Matsuura...
Corpi di donna Ura Vājon Najdeno v Tokiu: sodobna japonska proza (Knjižna zbirka Babilon) 犬身 [Kenshin] セバスチャン [Sebasuchan]

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