Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Report -One Pound of Pain

Never had reported on a Japanese book here till now. (In fact I haven't done a book report in a while). Well, I never really did read a Japanese novel after coming back from the states until very recently. The library that I have come to love going to happens to have a section entirely dedicated for English books, but, as one can easily imagine in a non-English speaking country, their selection sucks big: majority of what's in the shelf being whatever is world-wide famous and considered classic, many of which are straight out of high school English class. Don't get me wrong, I got nothing against John Steinbeck and Mark Twain; I happen to think they are great even, but hey, I'm an Eng. Lit. graduate. I'm done with all of that.

So I spend most of my time at the library skimming though hard covers of Japanese literature that I am yet to familiarize myself with.

When it comes to reading, I like it when I know nothing about what awaits me as I get to know of the story. No presumptions. No expectations. Sort of like meeting new people and getting to know of them for the first time; books disappoint as much as entertain. I'm all for surprises.

And my latest surprise was this one by Ira Ishida.

The title translates One Pound of Pain. I am not a big fan of titles that are too suggestive of a certain emotion in the book, this one being a great example. Pain?? I mean, come on! What a promising word to be planted in my head before I even open the book, you know? If I hadn't been all that curious about the author, I would have put the book right back where it was and never turn back to the same shelf ever again. But I was curious. I was curious for a long enough while about this Ira person. And here's why.

He writes a column in the magazine that I read. And! The author's birthday was the same as mine, only 20 years prior. Who can deny the immediate cosmic connection with a person who shares the same birthday with you? Not me. (I also share the birthday with Lady Gaga, and it's gonna be very hard for me to have to hate her just because of that.

At first I thought he was female. After all, the magazine is of women's fashion and life. Duh?! And when I learned that he was in fact a he, I stopped reading his column as fondly as I did before. Call me a sexist, but the whole notion of a mid-aged male human being, however smart and popular an author he may be, talking about women's work and life and love like he knew everything was, in my cynical 30-something-year-old mind, a bullshit. I mean, what the hell could he possibly know of us??? Of me???

But I had nothing to lose. I read the book by Mr. Can't-come-up-with-a-better-title anyway with a little chip on my shoulder, in an I'm gonna read your books even though I already know I'm not gonna like it! attitude.

Aftermath: I LOVED it! And I'm not saying I loved it like when I say I love donuts. I'm saying it in a much, much profound, intimate way. Like I found something that I didn't know I was looking for, you know what I mean? I thought I was done with encounters like that in my life when I met my husband, but bang! This book hit me as hard as when I read Ian McEwan for the first time. Hmmm. Speaking of which, Ishida does write a bit like McEwan. The heart of a human being on a very fundamental level, that's what speaks to me the most, and the two authors do that for me really well.

Anyways, so here's the book report. READ IT if you are literate in Japanese.

Until next time,


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