I truly admire Lafcadio Hearn. An international traveler and writer, his works on Japanese ghost stories not only captures the reader, but captures thI truly admire Lafcadio Hearn. An international traveler and writer, his works on Japanese ghost stories not only captures the reader, but captures the idiolect inherent in Japanese stories... (allow me, reader, the creative license to describe genre, voice, and the content for the diversity which is Japan as an idiolect. I recognize that it is a bit odd, but I also like it as a descriptive maneuver, capturing the individual narrator within the practice and knowledge of a broad region, history, and language). There are 17 short ghost stories within the novel, and then three short sections on insect stories, poems and narratives.
For those with an anthropological bent, like myself, the description of the term Nazoraeru in the story "Of a Mirror and a Bell" is particularly intriguing, as it calls forth the same sympathetic magic principle behind the Trobriand Islander's safeguards when loved ones are traveling on the ocean.
To exemplify, allow me to provide an excerpt from page 57: “Now there are queer old Japanese beliefs in the magical efficacy of a certain mental operation implied, through not described, by the verb Nasoraeru. The word itself cannot be adequately rended by any English word; for it is used in relation to many kinds of mimetic magic, as well as in relation to the performance of many religious acts of faith. Common meanings of Nasoraeru, accoriding to dictionaries, are “to imitate,” “to compare,” “to liken;” but the esoteric meaning is to substitute, to imagination, one object or action for another, so as to bring about some magical or miraculous result. For example: — you cannot afford to build a Buddhist temple; but you can easily lay a pebble before the image of the Buddha, with the same pious feeling that would prompt you to build a temple if you were rich enough to build one. The merit of so offerieng the pebble becomes equal, or almost equal, to the merit of erecting a temple…"
The book continues with delightful examples of poetry and lines, the sentiment of Japanese oral storytelling is given credit. One of my favorite examples came from the story entitled "Hi-Mawari": and its inclusion made me put down the book and go get my quote book immediately. “As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets, the same look that she turned when he rose.” (169)
Hearn is appreciated by readers in Japan and in English speaking alike. ...more
The descriptive details rise from the page like the smell of spice from a just opened jar. They are beautiful, captivating, and Tayeb Salih is a phenoThe descriptive details rise from the page like the smell of spice from a just opened jar. They are beautiful, captivating, and Tayeb Salih is a phenomenal author.
I want to give this book five stars. The book is incredibly well written. Unfortunately, I cant. The violence within the text is too disturbing for me to rank it any higher- Salih not only includes physical violence, but the most soul-debilitating epistemological violence on love, hope, and trust in relationships.
Yes, such pain and suffering exists in the world. And, Yes, I choose never to give a rank of grandeur to such violence.
Haruki Murakami translated this book (and many of the works of Scott Fitzgerald) into Japanese... and with good reason. Raymond Carver is an excellentHaruki Murakami translated this book (and many of the works of Scott Fitzgerald) into Japanese... and with good reason. Raymond Carver is an excellent distiller of the middle-class suburban American experience, and this book contains 22 short stories which begin without a beginning, and end without ending, holding the readers' attention through subtle underlying tensions between characters. They fit wonderfully into Japanese expectations of contemporary storytelling. The short stories captivated me from the start, though some are better than others ("What's in Alaska?" is simply an overture to stereotypes, for example.) If a reader only had a short amount of time, I'd recommend the following stories from this monologue: "Fat," "Neighbors," "They're not your husband," (good enough to thoroughly evoke a pissed-off Me), "Jerry and Molly and Sam," and "Why, Honey?"
I greatly recommend Carver's short stories. They are delightful... but the loose ends of the narratives do become repetitive. ...more
Mixing linguistic nuances and historical details with numerous stories, Donald Keene provides a strong editorial background to the translations of JapMixing linguistic nuances and historical details with numerous stories, Donald Keene provides a strong editorial background to the translations of Japanese literature. When read carefully, the book also gives a translation of Donald Keene, highlighting his taste in poetry topics, love of Noh theater, and occasional annoyance with mono-linguistic speakers (he's got some footnotes where he simply says 'this is a pun, and its very clever on multiple levels, but would be much to tedious to explain here. Mostly it means ___'). This is a good start to pick which early Japanese literature you might be interested in, but because much of what is in the book is only excerpts, they can never be a substitute the whole text. ...more
I love when Historians tell history through familial generations. Bernstein did a wonderful job interweaving national history within the life events oI love when Historians tell history through familial generations. Bernstein did a wonderful job interweaving national history within the life events of a local family. I would have appreciated just a little more artistry in the writing, and a little more 'voice' from the family (old letters and dialogs are included, I simply would have liked more.)...more
The marginalia of book contains the truth about the margins of two cities. The quiet slap in the face towards U.S. Capitalism was well placed, and welThe marginalia of book contains the truth about the margins of two cities. The quiet slap in the face towards U.S. Capitalism was well placed, and well done. An interesting book, but it never really hooked me....more
**spoiler alert** The ending of this series is an exemplar of terrible writing. Bad enough that I suggest no one should read "Jack of Fables," and I m**spoiler alert** The ending of this series is an exemplar of terrible writing. Bad enough that I suggest no one should read "Jack of Fables," and I might go as far as to extend this to the entirety of "Fables" and the other spinoffs (the spy mode of Cinderella became predictable within the first story line). Much like grade school, the authors apparently got bored with things and decided 'hell with it! Let's just blow everybody up!' And they did. They killed every character I had been mildly enchanted with, happily destroying all of the reasons why I read the damn thing in the first place. Perfect....more
I've just become a Rodriguez fan. This book contains twelve of his short stories. The descriptions in these stories are fresh- I'll demonstrate a coupI've just become a Rodriguez fan. This book contains twelve of his short stories. The descriptions in these stories are fresh- I'll demonstrate a couple of examples of his technique:
From "Finger Dance," page 76: “Although they had long stopped being intimate, she was connected to him like a canary to a song.”
From the intro to "Boom Boom Bot," page 91: “There was nothing around for miles but buildings rife with graffiti, sun-starched streets, and bone-gray cement walkways—an exasperating sameness that sometimes drives people who live in L.A. nuts.”
And later in the same story, on page 104: "He had her story down—a single mother, on welfare, most of the time horny, tired, perfumed to make up for the lack of perfume in her life.”
The grit of the city, of life documented and undocumented(i.e. government paper) in the Barrios shines brilliantly through in Rodriguez's stories. In "Miss East L.A." is an example of this exquisitely captured way of life. Pardon my extensive quote, but I would like more readers for this book, so I'm trying to tantalize...
"My place is too small and cramped to even light up a cigarette. It’s a single room on the first floor of a two story house in a place called th Gully, on Bernal Street just below the Fourth Street bridge. This is the White Fence neighborhood, one of the original barrios of East L.A. There are a lot of longtime residents here—I’m talking four or five generations. I’ve seen grandmothers with old pachuco tattoos up and down their arms, screaming after their grandkids to come home on time. A lot of the men here work construction. They’ve built skyscrapers, freeways, roads, and houses all over Los Angeles—with not much to show for it. So, with all the skill they’ve gathered over time, they stucco their wood-fram homes or dry wall an extra room or whatever—most of the time without permits or inpectors. That’s how parts of East L.A. got built in the first place. The Mexicans moved into the most undesirable areas like the ravines and hills and set up their own housing, sometimes without plumbing or sewage. Eventually, the city and county provided basic services. So its not unusual for small, dilapidated homes to be torn down, added on to, undergo a metamorphosis—like butterflies. If ther’s anything Mexicans are known for, it’s hard work and creativeness. I’ve lived here all my life. Not far from downtown is General Hospital—now it’s the University of Southern California—Los Angeles County Medical Center. A lot of Chicanos inhaled their very first breath there—and exhaled their last. It’s the cheapest and most overworked hospital in the city. Our hospital. East L.A.’s. I was born there.”
I teach Anthropology, and I can't wait to pair some of Rodriguez's work with articles on trans-nationalism, diaspora, and nationalism. It will be a great way for students to put faces and people into the circumstances so oft discussed in academic circles. ...more
**spoiler alert** I now understand why the reference to 斜陽 Shayō, or the setting sun, can be used for the decline of aristocratic houses in Japan. My**spoiler alert** I now understand why the reference to 斜陽 Shayō, or the setting sun, can be used for the decline of aristocratic houses in Japan. My heart spoke when both female characters make 'cries' unintentionally... This is a capture of emotion, of thoughts unspoken and yet so powerful that they escape in little moments upon the lips of even the most practiced women of refinement. I find this speaks volumes to the skill 太宰 治 (the author) wrote in capturing the process of repression necessarily in embodying aristocracy.
What I truly don't understand, however, is the omission of the last three chapters of the book from some editions. Indeed, I had an early parallel text version translated by Donald Keene, which was missing the last three chapters. To have those last three chapters missing means the book ends with the mother's death. In this way the people in the text, and their representative class, retain their nobility. The inclusion of the Kazuko's (the daughter) liaison with Naoji's (her brother) drunkard novelist friend, Uehara, Naoji's suicide, and Kazuko's pregnancy provide a much more than the preservation of honor. In this turn, 太宰 治 recreates people from a kind of social imprisonment. ...more
I will not rate this book. It's not for me. I do not judge those who it is for, but since sex and violence ferment into I read till page 20. I'm done.
I will not rate this book. It's not for me. I do not judge those who it is for, but since sex and violence ferment into a putrid lump of vomit and bile in my throat when I encounter it, I am not the readership for this book.