In Fiction, Japanese, Yasutaka Tsutsui on 2011/07/29 at 09:06
Tsutsui is one of those Japanese authors I haven’t read in Japanese. But I’ve somehow managed to pick up two books in translation by him. I tried to read him in Japanese, but I accidentally ordered a “juvenile selection”, which seems to mean the writing gets really dumbed down and they take out all the kanji. So I gave up on reading that pretty quickly. Kids’ book writing has so many commas! And such an irritating, condescending rhythm!
So I am stuck with Tsutsui in English, not necessarily a bad thing, given that he is fortunate enough to have good translators. Hell was translated by Evan Emswiler, and while there were a few bumps (including some dialogue that sounded particularly stilted), overall, it was smooth as hell, and given the constant switching of viewpoints that happens, I was impressed. (I was less than impressed with the editing, though. They somehow managed to misspell the name of one of the main characters on the back cover.) Read the rest of this entry »
In Japanese, Keiko Takemiya, manga on 2011/07/22 at 08:25
Considering that there are ten books in the version of this series that my brain is attacking, I doubt that I will write about each and every book. Because you know, I am mostly going to be saying the same things. Which is to say, I’ll mostly be raving about the amazing artistry involved in the creation of this story. The more I read, the more obvious it becomes that Takemiya very much deserves her place in history as a manga pioneer. Kaze is so rich in detail, it almost overwhelms.
Gilbert continues his love-hate dance with Serge, at times, drawing him in close, and at other times, pushing him away ferociously. And he can be ferocious. Gilbert is almost psychopathic in his lack of empathy. He lashes out with fingernails, tabletops, whatever he can get his hands on. At one point, after what he feels is a serious betrayal by the mysterious Auguste, Gilbert smashes a glass against the table and threatens Serge with the broken edges. He fights against his own opposing desires of wanting Serge gone from his life, and wanting him to be closer, but he is unable to completely alienate the newcomer to the school, who takes it up as a mission of sorts to help Gilbert fight whatever demons are chasing him. Read the rest of this entry »
In Brian Greene, Nonfiction, Science on 2011/07/15 at 08:59
Put on your science pants! My brain’s taking a trip down science-nerd lane! A trip it often takes!
Here’s the thing. I am a science nerd. I very nearly went into theoretical physics at university, but instead opted for pure maths. But it was always a close race. I dabbled in physics throughout my university career, and I could never quite satisfy my curiosity, which led to me reading popular science book after popular science book in my quest to bridge the gap between my math and my physics, but in a way that didn’t require me to go back to school and suffer through academia again. (I am just not built for that world, despite my true love of learning all things.) Someday, my brain will put to pixel its adoration of physics classics like Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip Thorne, or In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat by John Gribbin, but until then, you’ll just have to take my word that my brain loves physics. String theory, M-theory, quantum field theory: bring it! is the general attitude around these parts. Read the rest of this entry »
In Japanese, Keiko Takemiya, manga on 2011/07/08 at 09:01
Yup, we’re wading into Murakami territory here. A book with more than one book which I feel the need to comment on book by book. And like 1Q84, I will probably post less and less about this series of books as I realize that most of my comments are the same from book to book. What is different here is that I love Kaze to Ki no Uta, unlike my overall hostility towards 1Q84.
Kaze is a bit of a history lesson for me. It’s one of those series (originally published in 1976) you come across constantly if you do any reading about BL or the history of manga. You will slam up against this series eventually. Way back in the days of flouncy shirts, 14-year-old Serge, the son of a French nobleman and a Roma prostitute, comes to a boarding school in the French countryside, the same school his father attended, with all its attendant expectations. There he shares a room with preternaturally beautiful Gilbert, the school’s vaurien, and various adolescent hijinx ensue. Except the adolescent hijinx are more along the lines of pornographic, vaguely illegal town. Book One starts with Gilbert having some sexy times with Breau. Naked sexy times. I actually can’t believe that this was published more than thirty years ago. Because damn! You get underage gay sex and racism in the first five pages. And it just goes on from there. Read the rest of this entry »
In Fumi Yoshinaga, Japanese, manga on 2011/07/01 at 09:20
I’ve always had this love-hate thing with Yoshinaga. I mean, it’s mostly love, but there is this thing about her drawing style where everyone looks like they are smirking almost all the time that really gets to me. I had the hardest time pushing through Ichigenme wa Yaruki no Minpo because of all the smarmy looks. (I notice it in Ooku too, but so far, it’s not making me put the books down or anything.) (And yes, I am still reading Ooku. My to-read pile is insanely high.) It didn’t help that the majority of the characters were rich, soon-to-be-lawyers who you could easily see smirking their way through the majority of their lives. So first off, the thing I maybe liked the most about Kino Nani Tabeta? was the serious lack of smarminess. Facial expressions are a lot more relaxed and there is not the distinct downturn in the mouth lines of characters at rest.
I picked this series up because of the weird research I’ve been doing into BL as a genre. I’m sort of fascinated with the feminist undertones and implications of a genre of manga that takes as its subject male sexuality, but which is almost exclusively written by women and for women. In the course of exploring the genre, I have read a *laht* of BL. And full disclosure, I translate this stuff too, so I have spent far more time than is probably normal with comics focusing on man-on-man action. (And coming up with the sound effects for a BL manga is often awkward; I spend waaaaaay too much time thinking about what skin rubbing against skin sounds like in English.) All this to say, the gentler, more introspective approach Yoshinaga takes with Kino is more than welcome. Read the rest of this entry »