Feb 18, 2007

Strange stories from Canadian suburbs

Nectar Fragments, by Michael Hoffman. AuthorHouse, 2006, 564 pp., $23.49 (paper). In the manner of the anthropologist, Michael Hoffman, in his latest collection of short stories, stakes out a small piece of terrain then proceeds to examine the life within its coordinates. The name ...

Nov 26, 2006

A colloquial style of literature tourism

JAPAN: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, edited by Jeffrey Angels & J. Thomas Rimer, foreword by Donald Richie. Whereabouts Press, 2006, 232 pp., $14.95 (paper). It was purely by chance that I read the stories in this anthology while visiting the very same locations that ...

Oct 22, 2006

Exploring the cobwebs and exposing some dirt

ISTANBUL: Memories of a City, by Orhan Pamuk. Faber & Faber, 2006, 348 pp., £8 (paper). Turkey it seems has always inspired fear. The memory of advancing Turkish units camped outside the gates of Vienna haunted the European mind for centuries. “Where the Turk ...

Aug 27, 2006

Man's plunge into the Eros trap

ERO-SAMURAI by David D. Duff. iUniverse Inc., 138 pp., 2006, $14.95 (paper). Hearing several malicious comments about this book, I was eagerly predisposed toward it. Sub-titled “An Obsessed Man’s Loving Tribute to Japanese Women,” this is not the first politically incorrect work on Japan, ...

Jul 30, 2006

Working for and beyond the call of hospitality

WELCOME TO SAWANOYA, Welcome to Japan, by Isao Sawa. Omega-Com Inc., 2006, 203 pp., 1,200 yen (paper). It seems at times as if, by common consent for the other’s altering tastes, that East and West are exchanging positions. The West’s love of the subtle ...

Jul 16, 2006

Adventures in Gerontology

THE OKINAWA DIET PLAN by Bradley J. Willcox, D. Craig Willcox and Makoto Suzuki. Three Rivers Press, 2005, 432 pp., $14.95/2,300 yen (paper). In works like “Awakenings” and “The Island of the Color Blind,” neurologist Oliver Sacks showed how serious medical subjects could, in ...

Jun 4, 2006

Pensive view of a city's declining identity

KYOTO: A Cultural and Literary History, by John Dougill. Signal Books, 2006, 242 pp., 2,500 yen (paper). “Everyone knew,” the wartime narrator of Hisako Matsubara’s Kyoto novel “Cranes at Dusk” relates, “there was not a single Japanese city of over a million people that ...

| Apr 30, 2006

Shower of light on Eastern philosophy

LIGHT FROM THE EAST: A Gathering of Asian Wisdom, by Frank MacHovec. Stone Bridge Press, 175 pp., 2005, $16.95 (paper). The notes to this book tell us that author Frank MacHovec is a retired psychologist who began his study of Eastern philosophies as a ...

| Nov 6, 2005

A modern master of an old tradition

MIREI SHIGEMORI: Modernizing the Japanese Garden, by Christian Tschumi, photographs by Markuz Wernli Saito. Stone Bridge Press, 128 pp., $18.95 (paper). A revival of interest in the dry landscape garden of Japan both domestically and internationally took place during the early Showa Era (1926-1989), ...

| Sep 18, 2005

Sweet Mysteries of the Orient

THE ASIAN MYSTIQUE, by Sheridan Prasso. Public Affairs Books, 437 pp., 2005, $27.95, 2,850 yen (cloth). Apparently, there are still Western men who believe that the East is an obliging seductress, mass producing an endless line of voluptuous women, whose laconic sexual pliancy is ...