Sugar, Snark and Japanese Lit

An Exploration of Japanese Literature

Calling for Book Suggestions~! April 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — japaneselitchick @ 5:59 pm
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Now that I have a bit more time on my hands, I can actually sit and read. If there’s a book you’d like me to read and discuss, please tell me! I would be happy to hear your suggestions.

I have one more post before I leave the world of NP, but I think the next book that I’ll be going through will be Diary of a Madman by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro. I’m midway through it and so far, I’m finding it a bit tame for something by Tanizaki. I expect more craziness and creepiness as I continue into the novel, since this is a Tanizaki book.

Hoping that I’ll get tons and tons of suggestions,

JLC

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NP – A Thematic Sweep

Filed under: Genre: Drama,Genre: Romance,Genre: Slice of Life — japaneselitchick @ 5:53 pm

Book: NP
Author: Banana Yoshimoto
Status: Finished
Rating: 3.7/5

I apologize for the extremely large gap between updates. My regular vacation-less life came back and I did not have that much time to read my beloved books or write on this beloved blog. It’s been a long time since I’ve read NP so I’m actually writing all of this from memory. Consequently, I apologize if anything is a bit vague or perhaps wrong. Please correct me if I am.

Anyways, I’ve felt that I don’t really have a proper format for this blog. I don’t really want it to be just a review of all these books, but I’d like to analyze them just a bit. The level of analysis in my Be With You entry was a bit shallow, but then again, it’s a fluffy, brainless book that’s not meant to be taken as serious literature. Banana Yoshimoto, however, I feel deserves a bit more respect than that so here is what I have to offer so far. The following is a bit of a thematic sweep of the book just to get myself and hopefully, my readers, thinking. Please be warned of the spoilers that are to follow. (more…)

 

NP December 29, 2009

Book: NP
Author: Banana Yoshimoto
Status: Re-reading
Rating: TBA

No, it’s not internet lingo for “no problem”, but NP and not “Up” as I misread is the book by Banana Yoshimoto that I had just finished. So, what was it about? Well, let’s see… the story is told by Kazami Kano, a girl whose boyfriend is a translator and had just committed suicide while translating a series of stories written by Sarao Takase. The short story anthology, composed of 97 stories, is called “NP”, which stands for North Point, a sad song that supposedly drove the author to suicide. After his death a 98th story is discovered and Kazami’s boyfriend, Shoji decides to translate it, which somehow leads to his suicide. After Shoji’s death, Kazami ends up getting involved with Sarao Takase’s children: fraternal twins Saki and Otohiko and Sui, their half-sister who is romantically involved with not only with Otohiko but her father before his death.

As strange as this novel may seem, it’s one that you can’t put down – hence why I basically bulldozed through it in a day. For now I’ll offer you this summary while I re-read this, since I’ll need this re-reading to recompose my thoughts and feelings on this novel.

Have a wonderful new year!

JLC

 

I Would Rather Not “Be With You” December 24, 2009

Book: Be With You
Author: Takuji Ichikawa
Status: Finished
Rating: ** out of 5

The procrastination monster has struck and I ended up staying up late reading Be With You rather than doing what I was supposed to be doing. Darn. In any case, I’ve finished the book and good grief, it was terrible. Some bits sounded like a horrendous sappy romance novel written by a melodramatic teenager:

If I could do that, I hoped you could also distance yourself from me. I mean, I hoped you could find somebody else besides me to love. That way, you would be able to forget about me before too long.

I can see how this book could attract young female readers with this cutesy little love story, but its selling point might also be its biggest failure.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead* (more…)

 

First Thoughts and Impressions of “Be With You” December 23, 2009

Being such an eager beaver, I’ve decided to blog straight away on Takuji Ichikawa’s Be With You. I chose to read this book first since I needed something light after 3 months of heavy academic readings on Communists, dictators and Communist dictators. Fun.

It should be said that I already knew some of the plot. Being a manga junkie, I had read a preview of the manga adaptation of the book in Shojo Beat magazine (yes, censure me, I read shojo manga) and found the plot to be very unique seeing that it didn’t involve drama-laden high school romances. Instead, Be With You is about a man and his son whose wife/mother died a year ago. One day she reappears and that’s what I’ve gotten out of it so far.

So… my first impressions. If it weren’t for this blog, I would’ve abandoned this book and gone on to Up by Banana Yoshimoto, the next book on my list. Why you ask? Well, let’s just say that the main character of Be With You is an aggravating douchebag who has issues and knows it, but is too apathetic to solve them. Personally, I find these types of characters the most annoying along with characters who complain despite having the power to change their lives or characters who know their loved ones have issues or are deluded but does nothing to help them. *Points to the entire Loman family in Death of a Salesman*

In any case, the main character, nicknamed Takkun by his son Yuji is an apathetic man with anxiety issues. He gets too stressed out on public transportation and he can’t control his urges to speak when he’s in a place which demands silence (ie, a lecture, movie etc;). Since the death of his wife, his house is in complete disarray, he and his son have been eating curry rice for about a year and they’ve been wearing dirty and stained clothing for a very long time. In other words, he’s the type of guy that girls want to avoid if they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in the house, making dinner, cleaning and taking care of the kids. Furthermore, Takkun is an inept parent – he lets his elementary-school-aged son go to the movies alone because of his problem with staying silent – and all in all, he’s barely surviving without his wife. The only redeeming quality is that it seems that he really does love her, but that really doesn’t make up for the fact that he’s unable to smarten up and get his act together for his child who’s depending on him for survival and growth.

So far, I think Mio’s (Takkun’s wife and Yuji’s mother) appearance is rather interesting as there’s this fascinating circumstance which she remembers nothing of her life before her death. However, I can just smell Takkun’s sappy transformation from a douche to a better person coming up and I can say that I’m NOT looking forward to it for some reason. I just hope that this book is less cliche than a shojo manga, although honestly, I should’ve expected it.

Hoping that this book isn’t complete and utter waste of my time,

JLC

 

Welcome and Happy Holidays~! December 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — japaneselitchick @ 10:23 pm
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Hello all you netizens out there!

After a bit of pondering, I’ve decided to create this little blog to document my progress in my explorations in Japanese literature. After writing an article on blogUT, I could not help but feel that I’ve only looked at the tip of the iceburg in the world of Japanese literature. What pained me even more was that I could barely remember what these books were about, despite knowing that I liked them. (I confess I had to look at wikipedia to refresh my memory when writing that article.)

So here it is world, my ramblings on these books you probably haven’t heard of, but as long as I can look back and remember my thoughts and musings on what I’ve read, it’s all good. Unfortunately, I can’t offer you anything for my first post, except for the title of book, which is Be With You by Takuji Ichikawa. I decided to start my winter holiday reading with this book since I wanted to read something light and considering that this was made into a shoujo manga… well, let’s just say that it’s as light as it gets.

Anyways, happy holidays~!

JLC