We’re getting to the pointy end now. This is the penultimate volume of Viz’s collections of extracts from Oishinbo, and so it’s time for something subtle. Something both representative of Japan and its culture, and of hearth and home. Something to get excited about.
I’d never read any Michael McDowell before cracking The Elementals. I’d seen some of his other work, unknowingly – he was the scriptwriter for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice – and I’d seen that he was very well regarded by Stephen King, so I figured I might as well give it a shot.
Five volumes in and I guess we turn to the topic that kids aren’t excited about: veggies. Thankfully for me, broad beans are given a swerve, but there’s some good reps given to eggplant, a purple fiend I’m only sort of friends with.
I AM SHOUTING BECAUSE I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS TURNIP YOU SIMPLETON.
What I’m saying is that I guess it seems hard for readers – and for me – to be as wound-up excited to read a volume about greens when we’ve formerly had some great, in-depth knowledge shot at us from the Oishinbo food cannon. I was prepared for this to be a bit eh.
Thankfully, it’s not.
Pretty sure that guy on the right is related to that enthusiastic sommelier from a previous volume.
As I did last year, I’ve decided to try and remove a fair bit of the indecision that surrounds my reading. I’ve got a metric fuckton of unread books to go through, and I get paralysed with choice when I finish something. Which of the thousands – yes, literally – comes next?
So, I made a list. This one might be a bit more legible than last year’s one, but it’s probably just as unattainable, completion-wise. That doesn’t matter, though: the list provides some structure, and something that gives a good endorphin burst each time I can put a red read line through anything. (more…)
In terms of travel books written about Japan, this is a classic. It’s a pretty simple work: Ohio-born outsider tools around the Seto Inland Sea and, in the manner of a flâneur, offers his take on the place. Pre-gallery Naoshima. Pre-bridge islands. A world of fishing boats and lazy afternoons.
Let’s put it in perspective from the outset: the area that he’s talking about is glorious. It’s hazy and hypnotic, and completely suited to romantic introspection if you’re a traveller who’s impressed by views. I mean:
Right? Right. It’s somewhere I wanted to learn a lot more about.
The problem is that through this book, you learn a lot more about Donald Richie than you do the area. And what you learn, ultimately, is that he’s pretty much a dickhead. (more…)
I guess we’ve reached the point where, traditionally, I put up a post detailing what it is that’s taken my fancy in 2018. It’s become a bit of an annual thing, and far be it from me to disappoint the couple (?) of people who might nose through this thing in its entirety. So here we are: my wrap up of what’s been taking up my time.
Relatively accurate, though he swims more than I do.
The consumption of food-based manga continues. After last volume’s night on the turps, it’s time for something a bit more filling – a bit more starchy. So this volume of Oishinbo a la carte fits the bill, given that it’s about ramen and gyōza: comfort food typified.
When I was younger, I think a bit of my sense of humour was shaped by Clive James. I remember him being on TV, counting down gaffes of the year or offering his own (admittedly self-amusing) takes on world figures. I didn’t quite understand why it was funny that Leonid Brezhnev looked like he was operated by a foot pump, but there was enough stuff I got to make the confusion worthwhile.
Not audible: snark.
As I grew up (and his TV appearances grew fewer, perhaps) I didn’t pay that much attention to him. Now, he’s back in the news. It’s the end of his life – illness is likely to claim him soon – and I felt a need to catch up on some of his written work. He was, after all, a columnist of renown for quite a while, so it seemed fitting to dive into some of his pieces. (more…)