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.
I haven’t written a gaming update for a while, so I figure it’s time to redress that. Particularly as I’ve not been doing all that much of it lately.
There’s two games I did work my way through but never wrote about. I always intended on writing much more about both of them and had drafts for a while, but then I guess I missed my window. So take a couple of thoughts in lieu. (more…)
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…)
I DIDN’T CHOOSE THE THUG BOOK, THE THUG BOOK CHOSE ME.
(Oh come on, you knew it was coming.)
No, this isn’t any sort of Glock-heavy tell-all. It’s a bit older than that, though it is one of the earliest places where the term is used. So that Tupac tatt kinda began here. Also, it was a blockbuster piece of ethnographic fiction – the main character is a composite of several killers – and it boasted Queen Victoria as a fan. So now you’ve got the image of QV eagerly devouring strangling lit to get out of your brain.
Pictured: regal contemplation of unpleasant death.
The second volume of selection from the manga series featuring battling gourmands steps it up a notch. Sure, the first one talked about Japanese food and what it means to consider Japanese cuisine, but this one not only has a more consistent storyline, but it’s also about something a lot of people would think is more important: booze.
I’m pretty surprised that the Masterchef crowd haven’t latched onto the long-running Oishinbo (The Gourmet) the way they’ve put boots on the ground for Gourmet Traveller. Perhaps it’s because there’s a loud-mouthed character in this seinen manga who’s perfectly willing to underscore their lack of culinary knowledge, rather than to foster their kitchen fantasies.
Just a short review, as it’s almost impossible to adequately review anthologies of poetry, I find.
First, this took a long time to read – almost two years on and off – because I found I couldn’t inhale whole tracts of it at a stretch. It’s probably best used as an occasional thing, as something you dip into when the mood strikes. I think it’s probably doing a disservice to the cultures covered to whip through all of their inclusions in one setting, anyway.