Thumbs up for Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki. Literature.
A very quiet domestic novel about a pair of self-acknowledged cowards who cannot bring themselves to break off their loveless, but not hateful, marriage. The style and topic reminded me a great deal of Kawabata’s Snow Country (see my review) – which is a good thing, because I loved that. The simple, lucid writing lulled me into a lovely, dreamlike state, and while I have no way to know if it would have that effect on anyone else, I would say that if you like a novel about the complexities of ordinary human relationships, you should give this a try.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe. Literature.
A beautifully written book that is not in the slightest bit enjoyable to read. (Nor, in case you’re wondering, do I feel like a better person for having read it.) Weirdly tame and uncreative juvenile delinquents are marched to a village, to be shortly thereafter abandoned as the villagers flee the plague.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Literature.
I have not seen the movie Rashomon, but I am familiar with the plot, so I was surprised to discover (later confirmed by Wikipedia) that the plot was taken from the story “In The Grove,” while the setting (at the gate called Rashomon) and title were taken from the story “Rashomon,” the original plot of which has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot of the movie.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for 69 by Ryu Murakami. Young adult.
No, not THAT Murakami, the other one. And no, not THAT 69 (get your mind out of the gutter), the title refers to the year – 1969 – in which it takes place. Having read the blurb for Murakami’s other work Coin Locker Babies I was expecting something dark from this book, but frankly it was so light it could float away.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Kappa by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Literature.
When one of my favorite customers asked me what I was reading, I answered, “Lots of Japanese literature.” She responded, “Oh, how wonderful! I have a degree in Japanese literature! Who’s your favorite?” Her favorite was Akutagawa. I had no Akutagawa. She being the delightful person she is, she gave me one. Kappa is in fact a short story masquerading as a book, with the help of a long introduction that deals with the fascinating life of Akutagawa himself – something well worth reading on its own.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. Food.
A quick-reading, sweet book with luscious recipes and some not-too-sappy reminiscences of family and life. Already a fan of Orangette, Molly Wizenberg’s blog, I was looking forward to this, and it did not disappoint. Light reading, but very enjoyable.
“For one thing. she’s quite petite; barely over five feet tall. ‘Five feet and three-quarter inches,’ actually, is what she would tell you.
… >> Read more
Thumbs down for Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. Science fiction.
It wasn’t the self-proclaimed “violent exploitation” that got to me; frankly, that was just unorginal video-game-style blood and guts. It was the fact that the writing is some of the worst I’ve ever read in a professionally published novel. I don’t know whether it was the author or the translator, but to quote from the book itself: “Damn, this was bad.” And let’s not forget the bouts of utter ridiculousness: apparently the author thinks bulletproof vests make you invincible.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for The Phoenix Code by Catherine Asaro. Science fiction/romance.
Catherine Asaro is one of my favorite writers, but that said, I cannot recommend this book. While I enjoy her style enough that I never wanted to actually put it down, the beginning was very slow, and after the plot picked up, there were far, far too many times that I thought to myself: “Oh, no way.” The ending is especially unbelievable.… >> Read more