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.