Apr 13, 2008

Hailing the sensual night crawler

EAST WIND MELTS THE ICE: A Memoir through the Seasons, by Liza Dalby. University of California Press, 2007, 346 pp., $24.95 (cloth) “Earthworms twist” — “Prunella flourishes” — “Load up fertilizers” — “Moss glows green.” What are these? Well, in ancient China, around the ...

| Feb 25, 2008

Is ethnic passing finally becoming passe?

NEW YORK — Just about the time Bliss Broyard’s book “One Drop” came out last year, I received the latest book from my prolific friend Inuhiko Yomota, “Japan’s Marrano Literature.” In her book, Broyard deals with “racial passing” — a detailed exploration of why ...

| Jan 28, 2008

Watching the world's biggest roadshow

NEW YORK — I was recently amused to read the following observation quoted in an intellectual history of modern Japan: “The system in which people vie to get elected head of state through indulgence in garrulity and by flaunting gestures like those of low-class ...

| Jan 8, 2008

Bottle of water delivers wrong message

NEW YORK — “You really have to wonder at the utter stupidity and the irresponsibility sometimes of American consumers,” Salt Lake City Mayor Ross “Rocky” Anderson said. “These false needs are provided, and too often we just fall in line with what Madison Avenue ...

| Oct 29, 2007

Fatal deliverance from an 'iron storm'

NEW YORK — I was thinking once again about the intractability of Japan’s part in the Pacific phase of World War II when the news came: Okinawans had staged a huge rally to protest the Japanese government’s downplaying in textbooks the military’s role in ...

| Sep 24, 2007

The Self-Defense Forces: living with a lie

NEW YORK — Many commentators have invoked historical analogies for U.S. President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and its still unfolding aftermath, with some saying, correctly, that no exact historical analogies are possible for anything, the least of all this damnable war. Still, ...

| Aug 20, 2007

Why can't Americans give up their guns?

NEW YORK — Is there anything comparable to the numbing obstinacy, the utter blindness to reality, that politicians display toward the consequences of untrammeled gun ownership in this country? So I wondered, once again, when I stumbled upon President George W. Bush’s answer to ...

| Jul 30, 2007

How a woman portrayed Hitler as human

NEW YORK — What kind of courage, or audacity even, is required to stage, in Washington, a play featuring Adolf Hitler — one provocatively titled “My Friend Hitler” and written no less than by Yukio Mishima? After all, not just Hitler, but anything associated ...