May 21, 2006

The search for a legendary sword

MISHIMA’S SWORD: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend, by Christopher Ross. London: Fourth Estate-HarperCollins, 262 pp., £14.99 (cloth). On Nov. 25, 1970, Yukio Mishima committed seppuku or, to employ the term he preferred, hara-kiri. He did so with a great deal of fanfare ...

| Mar 19, 2006

Myths behind the rise of the mobile

PERSONAL, PORTABLE, PEDESTRIAN: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life, edited by Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, and Misa Matsuda. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 357 pp., $39 (cloth). Consider the refrigerator. The changes this appliance brought in its wake are monumental. Thanks to that big humming machine in ...

| Jan 29, 2006

Graphic view of Pyongyang

PYONGYANG: A Journey in North Korea, by Guy Delisle, translated by Helge Dascher. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2005, 176 pp., $19.95 (cloth). A consideration of North Korea must be, one supposes, a howl of rage, a moan of despair, or some combination, and this ...

| Sep 25, 2005

What could have been from what was seen

KANNANI AND DOCUMENT OF FLAMES: Two Japanese Colonial Novels, by Katsuei Yuasa, translated and with an introduction and critical afterword by Mark Driscoll. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2005, 193 pp., $19.95 (paper). The odd rightwing extremist excepted, it is difficult to find ...

| Jun 26, 2005

Intriguing mix of loose ends and aimless youth

THE METHOD ACTORS, by Carl Shuker. Washington, D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005, 512 pp., $16 (paper). There has been a great deal of discussion and debate about where literary modernism ends and postmodernism begins. The confusion arises in part because, far from being something ...

| May 8, 2005

The urban underclass of a modernist Tokyo

THE SCARLET GANG OF ASAKUSA, by Yasunari Kawabata, translated by Alisa Freedman, foreword and afterword by Donald Richie. Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press, 2005, 231 pp., $17.95 (paper). “Art is bad,” Guy Davenport posited, “when it is poor in news,” ...

| May 2, 2005

Memoirs of an activist

RESTLESS WAVE: My Life in Two Worlds, by Ayako Ishigaki. New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2004, 286 pp., $16.95 (paper). Those who know something about Ayako Ishigaki (or who have cheated and read the afterword to “Restless ...

| Feb 27, 2005

Where there's magic, there's Buddha

THE DHARMA OF DRAGONS AND DAEMONS: Buddhist Themes in Modern Fantasy, by David R. Loy and Linda Goodhew, foreword by Jane Hirshfield. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2004, 155 pp., $14.95 (paper). David R. Loy and Linda Goodhew’s “The Dharma of Dragons and Daemons” is subtitled ...

| Dec 12, 2004

Nostalgia is a green monster

GODZILLA ON MY MIND: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters, by William Tsutsui. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, 240 pp., $12.95 (paper). Toward the end of “Godzilla on My Mind,” William Tsutsui tells us that “Godzilla lives on in the hearts and minds ...