All posts for Books in 2011

Pascali's Island (Barry Unsworth) 2011-12-31 19:12:06

Inspiration for the Ben Kingsley movie of the same name: a dark little story about the death of trust.

Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye (Brad Warner) 2011-12-30 17:10:04

Brad Warner explains one of Zen's more difficult texts with verve and unpretentious charm.

No Longer Human, Vol. #2 (Usamaru Furuya / Osamu Dazai) 2011-12-23 19:35:02

Further down the spiral with both Osamu Dazai and his 21st-century interpretation via manga master Usamaru Furuya.

Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality (Brad Warner) 2011-12-07 17:34:38

Zen explained by a former punk rocker. No, really. And explained very well, too.

Black Jack Vol. 16 (Osamu Tezuka) 2011-11-05 03:10:42

The penultimate Black Jacking, with a final installment that's to Tezuka what a side-long song is to a Krautrock band.

A Bride's Story, Vol. 2 (Kaoru Mori) 2011-11-05 02:51:57

2nd volume of manga exploration of nomadic steppe life remains endearing and beautifully-drawn.

No Longer Human Vol. #1 (Usamaru Furuya / Osamu Dazai) 2011-10-18 23:08:09

A magnificent bleak manga adaptation of Japan's "Requiem for a Dream". Still timely and relevant -- and bleak.

The Book of Human Insects (Osamu Tezuka) 2011-09-25 05:14:20

Tezuka explores darkness once more, in the story of a woman apparently unaware of her capacity for evil.

Schoolgirl (Osamu Dazai) 2011-09-16 02:50:33

A short but stinging piece from the author of "No Longer Human", in English for the first time.

Botchan (Natsume Sōseki) 2011-09-09 14:00:00

Japan's perennial bestseller is their Huck Finn crossed with their Holden Caufield.

Oh My Goddess! First End (Yumi Tohma) 2011-09-08 14:00:00

Enjoyable if inessential light-novel side story for the Oh My Goddess! mythology -- written by one of the show's original voice actors, no less.

So Lovely A Country Will Never Perish (Donald Keene) 2011-09-07 14:30:00

Diaries and private writing from many famous Japanese authors during WWII reveal sides of themselves vastly unlike their public personas.

Piercing (Ryū Murakami) 2011-09-06 14:30:00

More of (Ryū) Murakami's misfits, but told with the great directness and simplicity of construction he's best at.

The Master of Go (Yasunari Kawabata) 2011-09-05 14:30:00

Kawabata's elegant classic about the end of one way of life and the beginning of another.

Wicked City (Hideyuki Kikuchi) 2011-09-04 14:30:00

Another series by Kikuchi (of Vampire Hunter D) sees English translation. Gnarly SF/fantasy thrills.

The Drinker (Hans Fallada) 2011-09-03 14:30:00

Fallada's story of an alcoholic in decline during Germany's own rough years still has magnetism.

Blade of the Immortal: Legend of the Sword Demon (Junichi Ohsako) 2011-09-01 05:16:46

Middling attempt at adapting a classic manga to a light-novel format.

Velveteen & Mandala (Jiro Matsumoto) 2011-08-16 01:15:41

"Bizarre" is the best adjective for this post-apoc zombie story, but "strangely touching" also comes in after a while.

A Caring Man (Akira Arai) 2011-07-29 00:00:00

A loner takes revenge on all of Japan. Efficient thrills but a bit hollow.

Black Jack Vol. 15 (Osamu Tezuka) 2011-07-22 16:32:11

Volume 15 of this series continues to assemble pieces that ran after Black Jack’s original run ended, and in some ways this is the best of the “pick-up” volumes yet....

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (Yu Kinutani) 2011-06-14 01:41:17

Do I complain or do I savor? That’s the dilemma I’m faced with after reading this manga adaptation of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, one of the first titles from Kodansha’s domestic manga publishing division (which eclipsed Del...

Black Jack Vol. 14 (Osamu Tezuka) 2011-06-04 22:06:40

The closet-cleaning for the Black Jack series continues, since everything after volume 11 has been bonus material. But this being Black Jack and this also being Osamu Tezuka, it’s a fascinating closet: Tezuka’s throwaways are better than what most other...

Lychee Light Club (Usamaru Furuya) 2011-06-02 14:21:39

There was a time when I sought out writing and artwork that seemed to exist mostly to find rules to break. William Burroughs, Dennis Cooper, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Maldoror, Eden Eden Eden, Michael Gira’s The Consumer. Once the novelty of all...

A Bride's Story (Kaoru Mori) 2011-05-22 04:41:04

Kaoru Mori last turned heads on this side of the ocean with her lovely and thoroughly-researched story of Victorian-era England, Emma, adapted into an equally lovely animated series. With A Bride’s Story, she’s taken the same fascination for period detail...

Kallocain (Karin Boye) 2011-05-19 02:20:58

There have traditionally been three great or at the very least formative dystopian novels of the 20th century: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984 and Evgeny Zamyatin’s We. The first two are almost stereotypically familiar; in my case...

Science Fiction Studies in Film (Frederik Pohl & Frederik Pohl IV) 2011-04-25 15:25:29

One of SF’s more distinguished names (and son) collaborated on this scattershot but enjoyable set of essays on science fiction in the movies. It’s best for the tone and tenor of the writing, with some nifty snippets of interviews with...

The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made (David Hughes) 2011-04-25 14:22:48

Hollywood’s messy love affair with science fiction is documented beautifully in this overview of SF movies which either made it to the screen only after great developmental strife (Dune, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four) or never made it at all (The...

Mardock Scramble (Tow Ubukata) 2011-03-08 19:23:49

The heck with the labels. That’s what I say when faced with writing about Tow Ubukata’s Mardock Scramble: forget about the categories you could slot this book into; forget about what part of the shelf to stick it in. Just...

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (Douglas Hofstader) 2011-02-14 15:48:40

Brain, n. That with which we think we think. I first heard that joke when I was, I believe, ten years old. I first read Douglas Hofstader’s Gödel, Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid when I was about ten years...

Popular Hits of the Showa Era (Ryū Murakami) 2011-02-10 04:36:00

A book like this leaves me divided. Popular Hits of the Showa Era is black comedy of the kind that would have made Terry Southern proud, and is written in a wild, paintball-splatter style where most every sentence has something...

Black Jack Vol. #13 (Osamu Tezuka) 2011-02-09 03:34:58

Vertical’s continued English translation of Black Jack (we’re now at volume 13) is proof of two things. One: even when Osamu Tezuka was doing comparatively minor work, he was still beating the pants off his manga-creating contemporaries. Two: Even when...

Crossfire (Miyuki Miyabe) 2011-02-06 16:35:22

A spiritual and intellectual sequel to Stephen King’s Firestarter; it picks up where that book left off in more ways than one. Junko Aoki, born with the power of pyrokinesis, lives a compulsively anonymous life while using her powers to...

Inter Ice Age 4 (Kobo Abé) 2011-02-05 16:11:31

The author of The Woman in the Dunes and The Box Man was not nominally thought of as a “science-fiction author”, but this 1970 novel is science fiction by every other name. A professor has invented a supercomputer with remarkable...

Death March on Mount Hakkōda (Jirō Nitta) 2011-02-04 19:52:32

Billed as a “documentary novel”, this book uses as its inspiration a true incident from Japan’s military history. In 1902, two platoons of Japanese soldiers competed to see who could cross the snowy wastelands of Japan’s far-north Mount Hakkōda. The...

In the Miso Soup (Ryū Murakami) 2011-02-04 19:41:48

Tokyo nightlife tour guide Kenji, who has made an art form out of letting the sleaze he witnesses slide off his back, finds himself with something he can't shrug off when an American tourist named Frank turns out to be...

The Stationmaster (Jiro Asada) 2011-01-30 16:58:15

Jiro Asada is an example of a Japanese author who’s achieved great success in his own country but remains anonymous abroad. Stationmaster compiles a slew of short stories, including the title story which was the inspiration for the live-action film Poppoya...

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