Thoughtful, sensitive exploration of contemporary Japanese culture.

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WRONG ABOUT JAPAN

A FATHER’S JOURNEY WITH HIS SON

Booker-winning Carey (The True History of the Kelly Gang, 2001, etc.) ruefully describes a visit with his son in search of “the Real Japan,” during which he learns that his ideas, like all assumptions about the unfamiliar, are flawed.

The Careys live in New York, where 12-year-old Charley has accumulated an extensive collection of Japanese comic books (manga) and developed an interest in the animated films (anime), especially the ones about a malevolent entity named Akira that lies dormant in Tokyo. Wanting his shy, gangly son to enjoy the trip, Carey promises, “No temples. No museums.” Once in Tokyo, though they stay in an old inn and Carey slips in a visit to a Kabuki performance, he essentially concentrates on Charley’s interests, figuring that “we might enter the mansion of Japanese culture through its garish, brightly lit back door.” Perhaps he could learn from the manga creators, whose woodcut illustrations recall famous traditional Japanese prints, about their links to the samurai and the historical arts of war. Trying to eat only Japanese food, father and son begin their research. They visit a traditional sword-maker and Akihabara Electric Town, a six-story bazaar that dazzles Charley. The Grave of Fireflies, a novel that became a famous anime about children trying to survive in a fiery world, leads them to Mr. Takazi, a friend of the author’s who eloquently recalls the WWII fire-bombings. They also meet the creator of the popular series featuring Gundam, a giant robot, and have coffee with the director of Blood: The Last Vampire. This is primarily a travel memoir, not a sentimental effusion about a father and son bonding in a foreign land. Charley has a great time, but Carey is not sure that his understanding of Japan is any deeper: nothing is what he thought it was, and the answers to his questions are elusive and noncommittal.

Thoughtful, sensitive exploration of contemporary Japanese culture.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-4000-4311-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2004

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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