In Chiyo Rokuhana, Japanese, manga on 2011/09/30 at 08:53
The last time I was in Japan, I asked at three different manga shops for this series and not one of them had it. Which is surprising to me, considering that it was made into a TV dorama and these were six- and seven-story buildings filled with manga. So I’m assuming that I had the particularly bad luck of running across several particularly hapless shop clerks.
Fortunately, when my lady friends were preparing to come to Canada to get married this summer, they asked me what manga I wanted them to bring. I didn’t want to fill their suitcases with manga for me, so I kept my evil urges in check and said that it would be lovely if they would be so kind as to bring me the new est em books (two). But they pushed and asked if I wasn’t interested in anything else. So I politely deferred the question and asked what they recommended. And their response was IS, the manga I had searched for in vain only months earlier! Clearly, it was meant to be. Read the rest of this entry »
In Chester Brown, Comics, English on 2011/09/23 at 08:58
I know, I know, I’m the last person on the planet to have read this. I think high schools are using this book to teach Canadian history even. It’s one of those books that’s always on my list that I never get around to somehow, even though I really like Chester Brown’s other work and I was fully expecting this to be just as good or better. I even managed to read his latest (Paying For It) before getting around to Louis Riel. It is one of those books that forever lurks in my periphery, never managing to quite make it to the front of the shelf.
But then I gave it to T. for his birthday (yes, I am even giving it to people, knowing as I do that it must be great, and yet I do not read it), and he was shocked to learn that I hadn’t read it yet since of the two of us, I am the comics lover. So he loaned me the book that I gave him and I got to work learning some long overdue Canadian history. Looooong overdue. Like I had the faintest memory of the name “Louis Riel” and something about the Métis from grade school, but they weren’t even connected in my mind. Yeah, they should revoke my passport. Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction, Japanese, Mieko Kawakami on 2011/09/16 at 08:41
Chichi to Ran, or “Breasts and Eggs”, won the Akutagawa Prize in 2007, which is basically why I picked it up. Akutagawa Prize winners tend to have some interesting stylistic choices that make them both difficult for my non-native Japanese speaking brain, and seriously rewarding for my book-puzzle-loving brain. Like Asatte no Hito by Tetsushi Suwa, which won the prize the same year and both confused and thrilled me. Unlike, Asatte no Hito however, “Chichi to Ran” is a novella rather than a novel and the slim book is padded with the short story “Anatatachi no Renai wa Hinshi”. Both works, though, focus on the same basic themes: relationships women have with their bodies. The breasts and eggs of the title are not figurative.
“Chichi to Ran” is written entirely in Kansai dialect. I love Kansai dialect and often daydream about moving to Osaka just so I can pick it up. It’s just so much softer and friendlier somehow. And apparently you can’t be funny in Japanese without a Kansai accent, so if I’m ever to fulfill my dream* of being one half of a manzai stand-up act, I’m going to have to move. But until then, my grasp of the dialect is loose at best, and more than once, I had to look up the meaning of dialect phrases used (thanks, Internet!). Read the rest of this entry »
In est em, Japanese, manga on 2011/09/09 at 09:17
I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since I interviewed est em last year, and she told me about how she had been drawing centaurs. But not fantasy-world style, she was careful to specify. Centaurs in our world, doing regular-life shit, just like regular people except with the lower body of a horse. And being in love with her minimal drawings, those slightly wavering, perfectly controlled lines, and her ability to evoke a real emotional response with a few lines of dialogue, I could not imagine this being anything but a good thing. Plus, I love good speculative fiction, and a world where centaurs are an everyday thing sounded pretty speculative to me.
But! I have been a little too free about ordering books from Japan, and causing my shelves to sag, so I resolved to pick this up on my next trip to the land of the rising sun, even though I was really dying to read it. Fortunately, Japanese homophobia saved the day! (The first and last time you will likely read that.) Lady friends who are not legally permitted to marry in Japan decided to cross the ocean for love and get married in much more sensible Canada. And they brought me manga! Lots and lots of manga! (Seriously, I have seventeen volumes of IS to wade through. Which, yes, I am excited about. Such is my manga nerdiness.) And yes, one of those was Hatarake, Kentauros! or “Get to Work, Centaur!” in English. Read the rest of this entry »
In English, Fiction, Lauren Beukes on 2011/09/02 at 09:08
William Gibson promises on the cover that Zoo City is “very, *very* good”, which actually makes me hesitate when I’m buying it because I am one of those people who does not love William Gibson. I don’t hate him or anything, but given a choice, I’d rather not read him. But Zoo City is the winner of the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award and published by Angry Robot, a UK press I’ve come to admire, and so I grabbed the book despite my Gibson misgivings.
And before I confirm or deny the “very, *very* good” on the cover, let’s talk about that cover. Which features not one, but two people of color and when was the last time I saw that? I’m not completely convinced of the cover design as a design, but after recent controversies about whitewashing on book covers, I was pretty glad to see some very non-white people featured so prominently on the cover of a book. High fives, Angry Robot designer (John Picacio according to the notes on the copyright page)!
But enough cover talk! What about the story? Read the rest of this entry »