Albert Camus , Tuxedmoon , The Stranger

Definitely not a new song, but a song that accompanies me for many years.

One of the best books I have read (multiple times) and one of the best songs I know.

The song actually starts from bullying and being a stranger, with a clear reference to Albert Camus at the end.

MOTHER died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.

But then it cuts off to

At the funeral they expected me to cry
Well I didn’t

Trying to bring the conclusion or more “strangeness” into the song.

 

Suspense book – Grasshopper by Isaka Kotaro

His new book AX is in the best selling list, so I thought I might as well try reading Japanese suspense books.

Started with Grasshopper (グラスホッパー) which tells the story of Suzuki, Semi (蝉, Cicada) and Kujira (鯨, Whale).

Kujira kills people by “convincing” them to commit suicide, Semi kills people with a knife and Suzuki entered this world to avenge the murder of his wife.

As expected, story and literary value is not satisfying, but I keep on reading. Partially to learn words and situations I am still not familiar with (crime and police), partially because I keep waiting for something to happen

 

 

Dorothy Parker quote on a Tote bag

A girl in the train was carrying a tote bag with the quote:

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.   – Dorothy Parker

At first I was thinking if Dorothy Parker would have approved this quote to be used commercially on Tote bag, but then I found out that the quote is attributed to Dorothy Parker, but not confirmed. See also in the Quote investigator .

I obviously doubt Wikipedia and the Internet, but I also doubt Tote Bags

Stories

I enjoy hearing people telling their stories. In Cafe, restaurants, Bar.

Even during business travel, one can have a chance to meet people and hear the stories.

Everyone have a story. Some are standard, some boring, some interesting and some exciting. It is many times not about the story, but how people tell their own story. Humbly, boastful, facts or spicing it with fiction.

A few stories I heard recently.

  1. A girl who lived one year in Vancouver, had to go back home and have two jobs to help support her family. One standard marketing day job (a bit boring), another working in a bar.
    Story told in English, humbly, facts, not from pain or frustration, not apologizing , a strong woman
  2. The owner of the bar (in Korea), which can speak Japanese, proudly explained why she can speak Japanese (but cannot speak English), story told in a boastful over the top manner, proud face.
  3. Woman during lunch talking with a man, explaining how she ended up working in a translation section of a big foreign company. How she has always been a “freelance” employee, never a formal employee a company. She taught English and then scouted to work as translator. Was this a date ? Were they work colleagues? Could not figure it out. Her story was humble, facts with hidden pride. “I am different”; “I look Japanese, but not really”.  Green shirt, magnificent colorful nails (with green again).

 

 

 

 

Donald Keene

Recently watched an NHK documentary about Donald Keene . Putting aside the usual Japanese dramatisation of his story, I was really moved by the person, his efforts and translations.

What really interested me is his translation of Japanese literature and conversations with the writers.  I struggle reading Dazai Osamu and Kawabata Yasunari books, which is not only about the Japanese language, but also the Japanese culture.

Hope it will not take me long to be able to read Japanese classics.

 

Matayoshi Naoki won Akutagawa prize

Japanese comedian, Matayoshi Naoki, won the Akutagawa prize.

He won it jointly with another writer, but this story is making waves as it is the first time a comedian wins the award.

Akutagawa prize is the most respected literally prize in Japan, awarded twice a year to the best “serious” literary work. By “serious” meaning a literary work which is usually less accessible to the wide audience. The Japanese language, its beauty and complexity is one of the goals of this prize.

As a side note, Naoki prize is also coveted and it is more “readable” or easier (language wise) than Akutagawa prize.

 

I am currently reading his book, “Spark”, (Japanese “火花”)but did not form my opinion on it. One thing is for sure, it is not easy for me to read it.

 

Soumission by Michel Houellebecq

Finished reading the book in Hebrew. Wanted to read in English, but for some unknown reason it is quite delayed compared to the Hebrew version.
(I wish I could read it in French, but that is a different story)

Submission is definitely not what I expected it to be, probably due to hype and marketing of the book.

Describing France in 2022 under Islamic Rule, I expected criticism of paranoia of Islam.
Michel Houellebecq  portrait was on “Charlie Hebdo” cover, depicted as Nostradamus. Again, expected some kind of angry, fearful book.

What I found was something completely different. Eloquently described by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker:

The literary obsessions are important, since it turns out that the principal target of the satire is not French Islam—which is really a bystander that gets, at most, winged—but the spinelessness of the French intellectual class, including the Huysmans-loving narrator

The charge that Houellebecq is Islamophobic seems misplaced. He’s not Islamophobic. He’s Francophobic.

The narrator changes, he loses his Jewish lover who runs away to Israel. But then again, all his lover eventually run away.
Sex and social stature is no longer available, so he might as well convert to Islam and receive both.

And another quote from The New Yorker

This is not to say that Islam in France won’t continue to be problematic or that the extreme right won’t continue its rise or that the respectable republicans won’t be as fatuously self-destructive as Houellebecq imagines them to be. The next thing is just never likely to be the same thing. The fun of satire is to think what would happen if nothing happens to stop what is happening. But that’s not what happens.

 

And if it was not clear, I recommend this book

Kindle Voyage

After many hesitations, I decided to upgrade to Kindle Voyage.

A very satisfied Kindle Whitepaper owner, the upgrade to voyage seemed expensive with few benefits.

But I guess my need for new Electronic devices has blinded my reason.

Anyway, I am VERY Happy with the device. Clearer, better, lighter. Currently have little usage for the frame page navigations, but I probably need to use it more.

 

Kindle_Voyage

蛇を踏む

A book by Kawakami Hiromi.

Trying to read but struggling, it is not about the language but I feel I am missing cultural knowledge.

 

Story managed to interest me and sweep me into a fantasy world, but I think there are some levels of complexity related to Buddhism which I don’t understand .

(Or maybe I am wrong and try to find meaning when there isn’t )

 

“My Man” /私の男 The book

As expected, the book was better than the film.

Winner of 2008 Naoki Prize, it has some faults, but definitely more depth than the movie.

The movie and the book differ in the flow of time. While the movie flows from Hana losing her parents and ends with her fiance meeting her father, the book goes back in time.

From the wedding ceremony, back in time to her first date , two murders and eventually Hana as a 9 years old, losing her parents and adoption by Jungo. Each part is told by a different Narrator, including Komachi san, Jungo’s “girlfriend”.

I must admit that the last part was a bit tiring, as I saw the movie and felt it didn’t add enough to the story.

Books are always better!