I’m a sucker for stationery. I never ran out of reasons to burn money on these – View on Path.
Last supply of this year’s uji konacha. Another batch will have to wait for another year. – View on Path.
Two months and counting on this hard-to-chew book. Most of the times it gave me headaches – View on Path.
A luggageful of baby clothing handed down from sister-in-law’s already grown up infant. Check out this monkey suit… How cute, something on its feet! with Astrid – View on Path.
At my fave restaurant listening to BSB and Sum41 for the greatest decade ever: the 90s with Astrid at Sizzler American grill – View on Path.
The Future is Japanese: Science Fiction Futures and Brand New Fantasies from and about Japan. by Nick Mamatas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
To think of it, Japanese is a very interesting and ever pervading culture. Just as you see Japanese food in every part of the world, now you will too, see Japanese stories authored by everyone. Compare this to Chinese culture: It is definitely everywhere, but who would want to author Chinese short stories? Just the Chinese I believe. I don’t perceive it as a bad thing. We are all so invaded by Japanese culture in our everyday I watched anime regularly when I was in high school and I still eat Japanese food and drink Japanese tea daily. And that could explain why I got this book.
I expect all the cliches in this book: Samurais, Cherry Blossoms, Giant Robots… And I loved it. To read this book is to play King of Tokyo (the board game) or watching Ultraman. I don’t know what kind of perverse enjoyment is that, because seriously, there is nothing beneath that, it is all so superficial—like pop culture and Andy Warhol.
So I don’t try to be all analyzing about this. Everything is there and everything is obvious. Maybe if there is something I like to discuss here that would be the stories by Tobi Hirotaka and Project Itoh and also worth mentioning One Breath, One Stroke by Catherynne M. Valente for its zenlike goodness. Those are my favourite stories. Although I still like the others, in a superficial way.
Do stop here to avoid spoiler.
The Indifference Engine by Project Itoh is the weirdest story of all. First of all, there is nothing Japanese about it (the one thing Japanese is the author). It is set in Africa involving African people, AK47, and a lot of dead bodies. It is telling about an effort made by the peace corps to stop the bloodshed in a region in Africa utilizing a treatment that makes people can’t differentiate race and feeling (such as pain). There is a moral value here: if we can’t differentiate, then there would be no difference, then there would be no racial hate and such. And the story takes it further by telling us the implication of it which lead to its eerie conclusion. This is one good story, hard to forget, and the translator really did a neat job on it.
Autogenic Dreaming by Tobi Hirotaka is a pure display of Japanese brilliance. It is complex and foreboding, yet you can’t help not to try to understand it and finish the story. It is told masterfully: mysterious, sophisticated, and engrossing. A mysterious program tries to interview a notorious killer and genius who had died a long time ago to fight another mysterious program that invade the human data center; It succeed in creating the virtual version of it—alike in all aspect—however the interview goes wrong because the man the program created somehow realized that he was created… This is one story that shouldn’t be analyzed too much: it will make your head hurts.
One Breath, One Stroke by Catherynne M. Valente is one enjoyable story about Japanese folklore and wabi sabi. It is hard to explain for all its abstract qualities: a man that turns to brush and turns back, a snail lady, magical forest, and haiku. I quite enjoyed reading this with a cup of shincha.
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