Thursday, February 8, 2007

...and now that I've started I can't stop ...

So currently in the CD player is Samurai Shortstop. Couldn't they have come up with a better title? It sounds so ... nerdy ... for a sports book.

But it's actually quite interesting. It takes place long before we (Westerners) though the Japanese were playing baseball -- the 1890s. Toyo is attending a western-oriented school in Tokyo and playing on the baseball team. At the same time, his father -- resenting the turn towards western ideas in Japan (notably, the elimination of various Samurai customs) -- is pretty much abusing him while teaching him the Samurai way of bushido (yes, I'm ignorant ... that's why I read fiction!). Oh, and the whole book starts with a graphic description of seppuku (hari kiri). Yeah, there's a booktalk!

The reader, Arthur Morey, has chosen to narrate in a cautious, deliberate fashion -- nicely reflecting our perceptions of Japanese culture. He needs to drink water more often (a big annoyance to those of us who listen regularly), as he occasionally enunciates too clearly to seem natural. But he seems to be pronouncing the Japanese words effortlessly (someone will tell me differently), giving each of the main characters slightly different voicings. I like that.

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