Steve Finbow




Steve Finbow
Steve Finbow writes book reviews and interviews authors. His most recent book, "Allen Ginsberg: Critical Lives," was published in 2012. He flits between Japan and England.
Japan Times
Jan 15, 2012
Grace shines through Nagai's tales of horror
GEORGIC, by Mariko Nagai. BkMk Press, 2010, 163 pp., $15.95 (paperback) Between writing the "Eclogues" and the "Aeneid," the Roman poet Virgil composed the "Georgics," published circa 29 B.C., which deals with rural lives, agriculture and all things bucolic. In the "Inferno," Virgil acted as Dante's...
Dec 25, 2011
Bubble-wrap novel far from bubble gum
Winner of the Prix Goncourt, Michel Houellebecq, in his latest novel, "The Map and the Territory," takes us into the world of art and the life of Jed Martin, rival of Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, and fan of a writer called ... Michel Houellebecq.
Nov 20, 2011
'1Q84': What I write about when I write about writing
1Q84: Books One and Two, by Haruki Murakami. Translated by Jay Rubin. Harvill Secker, 2011, 624 pp., £20.00 (hardcover). 1Q84: Book Three, by Haruki Murakami. Translated by Philip Gabriel, Harvill Secker, 2011, 368 pp., £14.99 (hardcover) Haruki Murakami's new novel may triangulate three pieces of...
Oct 16, 2011
Laid-back celebration of the empty and ordinary
PLAINSONG, by Kazushi Hosaka, translated by Paul Warham, Dalkey Archive Press, 2011, 176 pp., $18 (paper) After being dumped by his girlfriend and moving to a new apartment, the anonymous anti-hero of this plaintive novel finds himself drawn to the life of a recluse, shunning drinking friends, and...
Japan Times
Oct 2, 2011
Meticulous ode to love and fate
It is rather disconcerting to read a novel that opens with the assertion that "I've already slid right on past the big five-oh — a milestone no one thinks is very pretty and few are eager to reach — to become a man of fifty-one," particularly when this reviewer reaches that milestone this...
Sep 18, 2011
Existence is but a brief shimmer of light
INCIDENTAL MUSIC, by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa. BlazeVOX, 2010, 112 pp., $16.00 (paper); and NOTATIONAL, by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa. Otoliths, 2011, 68 pp., $12.45 (paper). If the saying is true that "writing about art is like dancing about architecture" — or, as Martin Amis argues, that, when...
Jul 31, 2011
Tantalizingly tangled dead-man mystery
THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X, by Keigo Higashino. Translated by Alexander O. Smith. Minotaur Books, 2011, 304 pp., $24.99 (hardcover) A jogger discovers a male corpse wrapped in blue tarpaulin on the Tokyo embankment of the Edogawa. Someone has stripped the man's body, beaten his face until unrecognizable,...
Japan Times
May 22, 2011
Untouchable lays bare a divided nation
With ebooks increasingly dominating the publishing market, it is a pleasure to hold a printed book so gorgeously designed as this one; the cover alone would make it a welcome addition to any Kenji Nakagami collection.
Japan Times
May 1, 2011
Revenge of the aunties
If the collective noun for a bunch of morons is a "drool," then what would it be for a group of feckless twenty-something cretins? A "slobber"? A "salivation"? The group of six men in this rollicking satire run the entire gamut of idiocy as they battle the formidable Midori Oba-sans (aunties), those...
Apr 10, 2011
Poetry lies in wait to spring at our throats
NONZEN POEMS, by Morgan Gibson. Printed Matter Press, 2010, 100 pp., $15 (paper) Translator, scholar and poet Morgan Gibson's collection "Nonzen Poems" divides into four parts concerned variously with breath, nature, Buddhism, and the author's mentors and contemporaries — notably Kenneth Rexroth...
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 the slew of ghosted...
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:
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 male retainers. The group visited...
Feb 20, 2011
'Remote Control': Big Brother is watching you
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.
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 Low. Quite a list:...
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 into the past. This is Nagasaki, the...
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.
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.
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: Stories and Studies of Strange...
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."


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