May 31, 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly: 12 offbeat visions of Japan

Of the 12 “visions of Japan” gathered in Future Fiction’s “Love Hotel City,” Steve Finbow’s “Shadowings” is among the most interesting. In it he explores the relationship between a character who appears in a comic and the artist who draws that character. LOVE HOTEL ...

Apr 12, 2009

Dark thoughts and macabre tales

As a boy, Edogawa Rampo was, as he relates in one of the essays included in this collection, a devotee of popular fiction. Entering the fantastic twists and turns of his stories we are soon lost in them just as, when boys and girls ...

Mar 29, 2009

Between modernism and modanizumu

MODANIZUMU: Modernist Fiction From Japan, 1913-1938, compiled and edited by William J. Tyler. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008, 605 pp., $47 (cloth). When reading William J. Tyler’s anthology, “Modanizumu: Modernist Fiction from Japan, 1913-1938,” one realizes that “modanizumu” (modernism) is a very broad ...

Mar 29, 2009

Between modernism and modanizumu

When reading William J. Tyler’s anthology, “Modanizumu: Modernist Fiction from Japan, 1913-1938,” one realizes that “modanizumu” (modernism) is a very broad term. It seems to mean, for Tyler anyway, any work produced during the years he designates that is not absolutely reactionary in its ...

Feb 15, 2009

From a master of versatility

BOTANDORO: Stories, Fables, Parables, and Allegories — a Miscellany, by Donald Richie, edited and with an introduction by Leza Lowitz. Printed Matter Press, 2008, 272 pp., $20 (paper) The last page of Donald Richie’s most recent offering, “Botandoro,” reveals that he has, in his ...

Feb 15, 2009

From a master of versatility

The last page of Donald Richie’s most recent offering, “Botandoro,” reveals that he has, in his long and productive life, published no fewer than 35 books. The word “prolific” is unavoidable. BOTANDORO: Stories, Fables, Parables, and Allegories — a Miscellany, by Donald Richie, edited ...

Ready for a little Yuletide reading?

| Dec 14, 2008

Ready for a little Yuletide reading?

FOR THE FIGHTING SPIRIT OF THE WALNUT by Takashi Hiraide, translated by Sawako Nakayasu (New Directions) In “For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut,” Takashi Hiraide shows us that poetry need not be chopped-prose maunderings on the changing of the seasons, the sun setting ...

Drawing new life out of an old story

Nov 30, 2008

Drawing new life out of an old story

RED COLORED ELEGY by Seiichi Hayashi, translated by Taro Nettleton. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 235 pp., $24.95 (cloth) Here’s a rough synopsis of the plot of Seiichi Hayashi’s “Red Colored Elegy”: A young couple, committed to their art, struggle to keep themselves, their art, ...

Sep 7, 2008

Takashi Hiraide's 'Walnut' is tough nut worth cracking

FOR THE FIGHTING SPIRIT OF THE WALNUT by Takashi Hiraide, translated by Sawako Nakayasu. New York: New Directions, 2008, unpaginated, $17.95 (paper) When a fan of the neglected American genius Guy Davenport wrote to tell him that she admired his ability to express himself, ...

May 25, 2008

Abu Ghraib stirs memory of a prisoner of conscience

BLACK GLASSES LIKE CLARK KENT: A GI’s Secret From Postwar Japan, by Terese Svoboda. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2008, 225 pp., $14 (paper) In most of the developed world, for most of the post-World War II era, the notion that torture might be ...