In Brain, Celebration on 2012/07/27 at 09:50
Although it’s been over a year since my brain decided to battle books publicly (seven months over to be precise), neither my brain nor I is the type to celebrate fixed anniversaries and holidays (we are perverse that way). But! We celebrate in our own way, creating holidays when and where necessary, the most recent being Tutmas, a delightful celebration of all things Tut, when we hang hieroglyphs on the desert frond and sing Tutmas carols. We also had great fun at Summer Beach Day a couple Februaries ago.
Generally, these holidays are of no relevance to the important task of defeating books. However, today, a new milestone has been reached and it is one of the ones my brain has deemed worthy of celebration. Namely, the finishing of a journal. Yes, I am one of those total Luddite lunatics that actually puts pen to paper and writes “thoughts” and “feelings” that no one will ever read. More important to this discussion, though, is the list of books read that adorns the back pages of this journal. Now that I am about to start a new list of books I have read in the new journal of “thoughts” and “feelings”, it seems appropriate that I post that list here in the place of book battles, so that my brain can feel even more triumphant in its conquering.
So this week, for your thoughtful reading pleasure, a reading list of everything I read, excluding magazines and books I forgot to write down (which I did with irritating frequency, as I discovered compiling this list and finding books I wrote about here, but I did not write down there), between January 2011 and July 2012! Read the rest of this entry »
In Brain, English on 2012/03/07 at 09:59
Even those of you not working in Japan and interacting with the country on a daily basis will probably remember that big disaster thing that happened almost a year ago. All the horrifying images that came out of the country, the sadness of all those lives lost, homes destroyed. And then of course, the neverending nightmare that is the Fukushima power plant. The thing that you might not be aware of is that this tragedy hasn’t exactly ended. Things in the north are still in shambles. All those people who were forced to leave their homes because they lived inside the exclusion zone around the power plant? They’re still not allowed back in, and it’s looking like it’ll be a very long time before anyone gets to live in that area again. It is definitely not over.
I’m not writing all this to start your Wednesday off with a big old downer, but to remind you that you can support relief efforts and read some great Japanese literature thanks to March was made of Yarn, a collection of writing from amazing authors translated by superstars, and edited by Elmer Luke and David Karashima. With stories by Yoko Tawada, Mieko Kawakami, Hideo Furukawa, and even a short manga story by the Nishioka Kyodai, it’s a fantastic collection and a good chance for all you monolinguals to read some of the awesome stuff coming out of Japan these days. If you don’t believe me that it’s awesome, go read these reviews. Total strangers on the Internet would not lie to you. Read the rest of this entry »
In Brain, ebook, English, Toh EnJoe on 2011/11/16 at 15:47
I am not going to tell you what I think of this story (PDF which you can download free until March 2012). Because I translated it and that would be some kind of conflict of interest. I will just suggest that you read it. And then donate. Because this is a more than worthy cause. (And of course, you can read the story in Japanese by buying it here, with all the proceeds going to charity.)
If you are less than interested in great causes, it is a great story by a great author who has yet to make his presence felt in the English-speaking world. But really, that’s only a matter of time. (Oh, wait. I said I wasn’t going to tell you what I think of the story. Uh, sorry?)
And Toh EnJoe’s musings on rockets and the nature of writing itself are not the only excitement. Up-and-coming young Japanese authors of all stripes have contributed stories (including recently discussed Mieko Kawakami), and all kinds of amazing translators have donated their efforts to bring you these stories in English. So click through, read some great fiction and send what you can spare to the Japanese Red Cross, who are still hard at work in the hardest-stricken areas of northern Japan. Because a thing like the March 11 earthquake, you don’t just recover from that overnight.
UPDATE: Guess who won the Akutagawa Prize! Mr. Toh EnJoe himself! (He is the guy on the left if you click on that link.) “Silverpoint” is not the story he won for, but it’s still a great story and pretty representative of his style. And it’s up on these interwebs for a good cause, so go download it already, and put some money in the Red Cross hat.
In Brain, manga, Natusme Ono, Translation on 2011/05/24 at 15:45
Dear person who found my blog by searching for “Saraiya Goyou scanlated”,
Please buy the book. It is called House of Five Leaves in English and it is only $12.99. That is not so steep for such a quality book. And the translation is top notch!
But I understand only all too well that sometimes, a person just does not have $12.99. That is a hard place for a book lover to be, but there is hope! It is a thing called a library and you can read books there for free! Incredible! If they do not have House of Five Leaves at your local library, you can ask them to get it for you. Most libraries take requests and are glad to hear from patrons about what they would like to see on the shelves.
So you know, you have options that would support the artist who made this terrific book, Natsume Ono, so that she can keep making terrific books.
In Brain, Panic on 2011/03/11 at 11:42
My brain will be writing about books soon enough, but at the moment, it is stricken with panic and sadness at the action in Japan. So while you are waiting to find out what my brain thinks of the printed page, perhaps you could think about offering a hand to the people on the ground? Friends are saying that they are still plagued with aftershocks in Tokyo, so I can’t even imagine what it’s like in Tohoku (the epicentre of this disaster). And if you’ve seen the extremely distressing videos of the tsunami, then you know that help is going to be seriously needed to clean up and get those people back on their feet. So you know, if you’ve got a few bucks, the Red Cross is already mobilizing.
(PS. Live updates and emergency info here.)
In Brain, Japanese, manga on 2011/02/01 at 12:09
I just got a buttload of manga delivered by a very friendly postal worker! These are the kinds of things that make my week. I mean, the manga alone would have been more than enough to make me smile for days, but add a friendly interaction with a nice postal worker and it’s rainbows everywhere!
The best part about this box full of pictures and words? I am reading them for work! (I love my job.) Some more directly for work than others. The most recent volume of Ooku (I am seriously behind in this series. Volume 6 came out in August and I am just now getting it in the post?) is the more indirect kind of reading for work, the keeping-up-with-the-world-of-manga kind of reading, while Ono Natsume’s Tsuratsura Waraji is the more direct kind, the interpreting-for-her-in-May-so-better-prepare kind. (TCAF finally made the announcement today!)
My brain is less excited by all this than I am, though. It keeps casting fearful glances at the ever-expanding shelf of books to be read, and muttering to itself about not enough hours in the day and maybe it doesn’t really need sleep after all.
In Brain on 2011/01/30 at 14:05
My brain is pretty sure it can read a new book every day. And although I have confidence in it and know that it has the skills to make that happen, the fact is my brain and I have other things to do besides read all day, as much as both of us would enjoy that. Some of those things allow us to earn money so that we can buy more books for my brain to go up against. So the other things are important too.
Which means that my brain cannot duke it out with a book here every day. Or even every other day. We’ll start off with once a week and see how that goes. I might post other reading-related things up here during the week, but the basic brain versus book action will happen once a week, most likely on Friday since I’m sure that’s when you all will be looking for some tiny distraction to take you through until the glorious moment when you can finally be free of your soul-crushing means of monetary fulfillment for a whole two days. Consider it my brain’s gift to you.
In Brain on 2011/01/28 at 21:25
My brain versus all the books! What will be the victor?!
Actually, my brain already jumps out of my head, locks itself in a closet and whimpers softly at the thought that I will die before even reading the books on my to-be-read shelf, much less all the books on the planet. And I am not making things any easier by reading in more than one language. That just multiplies the number of books my brain will need to go up against. Fortunately, my Swedish has rusted almost to the point where I can’t read it so easily, so that takes at least a subset out of the running. But the Japanese publishing industry is insanely prolific and there are so many excellent French books, so that probably offsets any breather I might get from failing to read Swedish.
I think the books may have already won. Still! My brain does not admit defeat so easily. I will read the books in my methodical fashion, allowing my brain a chance to show off its amazing literacy. (And it really is amazing when you think about it.)