TUNE IN TOKYO

THE GAIJIN DIARIES

An English teacher’s humorous observations on life in Tokyo through Western eyes.

Dissatisfied with the American Way and anxious about the prospect of turning 30, Anderson, a gay white North Carolinian, left his home country to snap himself out of the sameness of middle-class American life. “The last time I felt totally wide awake and alive was the last time I lived outside the country,” he writes. After a six-month stint in England, he decided to cash in on his otherwise useless English degree and took a job teaching English at a language school in Tokyo. From there, Anderson provides a frantically paced, in-your-face extended riff on everything bizarrely Japanese (which turns out to be pretty much everything Japanese, period). The obvious East/West tension and language barriers account for much of the humor, but even more hilariously observant is Anderson’s wry commentary on the bafflingly instantaneous social rebirth that even the most awkward, dim and unattractive of his American male colleagues often experienced in Japan. From Anderson’s perspective, the simple virtue of being a male Westerner garners instant gigolo status among the most beautiful of Japanese women. The author also found himself playing viola in a ramshackle experimental noise band and, inevitably, the Tokyo karaoke bars. Anderson reliably mines the rich comic potential inherent in simple, innocent miscommunications and misunderstandings, but most impressive is the author’s ability to sustain his hyperactive comedic voice throughout most of the book without losing his edge. A laugh-out-loud look at the East/West culture clash.    

 

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 9781612181318

Page Count: 288

Publisher: AmazonEncore

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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