Apr 3, 2011

Sojourner of the mystical realm

THE PASSING SUMMERS, The Japanese Mystique: Charm and Consequence, by Ivy C. Machida. Printed Matter Press, 2010, 280 pp., $20 (paper) The 21st century has seen a proliferation of memoirs entering the book market — from James Frey’s memoir-fiction “A Million Little Pieces” to ...

Mar 27, 2011

Megalopolis mindscapes

ISLE OF DREAMS, by Keizo Hino. Translated by Charles De Wolf. Dalkey Archive, 2010, 168 pp., £11.99 (paper) In Donald Richie’s short novel “Tokyo Nights,” two characters discuss authenticity: “Nothing is original — ever. Things seem to be changing but they are always the ...

Mar 13, 2011

Of goldfish and food demons

A RIOT OF GOLDFISH, by Kanoko Okamoto. Translated by J. Keith Vincent. Hesperus Press, 2010, 136 pp., £8.99 (paper) Between 1929 and 1932, the poet Kanoko Okamoto traveled through Europe and the U.S. with her husband, the cartoonist Ippei Okamoto, her son and two ...

Feb 20, 2011

Big Brother is watching you

REMOTE CONTROL, by Kotaro Isaka. Translated by Stephen Snyder. Kodansha International, 2011, 334 pp., $24.95 (hardcover) If you want an all-action, well-written and intelligent novel to read in 2011, then look no further than this excellent conspiracy-theory thriller. “Remote Control” has the delirious historical ...

Jan 30, 2011

Poetry in motion

SKY=EMPTY, by Judy Halebsky. New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2010, 83 pp., $15 (paper) Ernest Fenollosa started it, then passed it on to Ezra Pound, who influenced Kenneth Rexroth, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen, Robert Creeley, Gary Snyder, Jack Spicer, Cid Corman and Jackson Mac ...

Dec 19, 2010

Final word on the year's best reading

A tale of love, murder, intrigue, and cultural identity, Mitchell takes the form of the historical novel and worries it like a chew-toy. Yet, rather than destroy the genre, he embellishes it, heaps poetry onto research, gazing with a precise and incisive eye back ...

Dec 5, 2010

Erotic destiny, palace intrigue

Based on apparent “past-life memories,” this historical novel by shamanic witch, priestess and time-traveler Cerridwen Fallingstar takes place in 12th- century Japan in the period leading up to the Genpei War between the Taira (Heike) and the Minamoto (Genji) clans. WHITE AS BONE, RED ...

Nov 28, 2010

Tales of a Heian Casanova

Ariwara no Narihira (825-880), a Japanese Don Juan, a Casanova of the Heian Period (794-1185), a poet, one of the prime authors of “Ise Monogatari,” is the hero of these 125 interconnected tales written in verse with prose links. THE ISE STORIES: Ise Monogatari, ...

Oct 31, 2010

Odd tales, torments

In the 120 years since Lafcadio Hearn first arrived on these shores, Japan has traded superstition for Super Mario. Were Hearn to disembark in Yokohama today and travel through the country, would he be able to compile contemporary “Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan” or “Kwaidan: ...

Oct 10, 2010

Of villains and poets

Divided into five sections, the American poet and translator Taylor Mignon’s first solo collection of poetry begins with his “Juvenilia.” JAPLISH WHIPLASH, by Taylor Mignon. Printed Matter Press, 2010, 78 pp., $20 (paper) VILLAIN, by Shuichi Yoshida. Translated by Philip Gabriel. Pantheon Books, 2010, ...