He's certainly crammed a lot in here ... all of late-1950s Japan is here! And that's too much ... why do we need the German with the koans
? And the eta
trading in stolen dogs? And that film director who used to go with American sailors? And the angry young rightist blowing up corrupt industrialists? I'm all in favour of a bit of local flavour ... but too much, Francis, too much! And the white people do moan
so much ... and yet a Japanese rainy season is
Did the story work? The diary/third-person narrative combo was a bit weird. And the ending seemed fairly ... flat. But great fun!
Some bits I liked:
"I have often caught myself seeking advice which I don't need from people incompetent to give it, merely out of motives of flattery"
"I hastened to help. 'Thank you' then came out in feeble little gasps as though it were beyond her overtaxed strength to say it properly."
"'Tell me, Setsuko, about your work with the Americans. I think you must have had a bad time. You seem to dislike them so. Or did you come to dislike them when you were at Vassar?'
'I don't dislike them,' she retorted sharply. 'It's hard to dislike children.'"
"Japanese 'politeness' has as little connection with consideration for others as Japanese cleanliness has with hygiene: both are ritualistic."
"and her scab-like mouth had fallen in over two or three teeth which were revealed, like burned matches, when time from time she gave a susurrating cough."
"'And you have wife, sir?'
I shook my head.
'But you are forty-four.' At first he was bewildered; then comprehension came to him. 'Ah, I understand. I understand! You are a gay.'
'A gay. Excuse – this is Amelican expression. A gay, a sodomite. You like sister-boy?'
'Many foreigners in Japan are sodomists. I think thlee years ago that may be I am a gay. I go with foreigners I meet at bar in Osaka, but they say I am not leally intelested. One Amelican sailor hit me, hit me very much, afterwards. Maybe he not preased because I not leally intelested.'"
"the tiny mouth which actually seemed to masticate the prayers in which she insisted on joining aloud."
"Who would have thought that he would commit such an action? was my first amazed reaction, followed by: But I did half think it! (Just as, at night, I used to wake mysterious thuddings and scratchings overhead and murmur to myself 'Rats'; but never actually believed in their existence in the house until one scuttled across my bedroom in the light of day."
"At the most there's a change, and there are times when a change, any change, is better than lying still. If you're in agony in one position, you don't bother to think whether another position will be equally agonizing. You move; and the act of moving is in itself a temporary relief."
"The gossips would be wrong to say that there was ' something' between him and the girl; but was he right to assert that there was nothing between them?"
"perhaps with a Japanese woman of her generation it was impossible for any foreign woman of Colethorpe's generation to establish any intimacy. It was now nearly three months that they had seen each other daily under the same roof and the period might have been three hours."
"'You don't do things here because your conscience or your heart or even something lower than your heart tells you to do them. You do them because other have done them – and are doing them – and will go on doing them.'"
"'There must be a cat somewhere. Cats always make me sneeze.'
'Perhaps someone is wearing one.'"
"'Women have a way of crediting people with the worst kind of behaviour and yet not really thinking any less of them for it.'"
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