Tag Archives: Japan

Man and Boy – Tony Parsons


The story is about a young man who is turning 30 and who destroy his previous life in a couple of days. First of all, he betrays his wonderful wife and she left him. Secondly, they fire him. The most engaging task is to take care of his 4 y. o. son, because till now he did not make anything with him and left the Whole work to his wife. The second task is to convince his new love, an American waitress with a daughter, to stay with him.

So: nothing new under the sky. But the way in wich the author describes problems and actions manages to let you feel like the carachter. This is the main reason I would suggest you to read this book: because even if you never separated, never had to care about your son, never met the hurdles of a divorce, you feel compassion for Harry Silver as you were involved in his problems.

The most touching part of the book, in my opinion, is where Harry’s father falls ill and dies. Because the protagonist finds out how much he resembled his father: and this is a feature that I notice in my life too! But you discover it just when you have a son, I fear… not earlier.

At the end: well build carachter and well Worth book!


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Hearts Come Home – Pearl S. Buck


I bought this book in Lisbon, in a second-hand book-store down Baixa Chaido (wonderful store, despite the majority of titles were in Portogues). This 1970 version has a stamp on the second page: British Embassy. I love second-hand books!


I was used to read Buck’s work when placed in China, but this short stories collection was a surprise to me. Actually, it doesn’t include only stories from far East, but also from author’s Birth nation, the United States. And she deepens above all the relationships between men and women, between lovers, between husbands and wives.

When stories take place in China, the most appealing feature is the transformation, the passage from the Past to the Future, with all consequences on people who do not manage to keep the pace.

I noticed that Buck often uses the same names for her carachters and I wonder if they are the same carachters in different stories or if she only meant to indicate general names, so to match them to very ordinary people.

For sure, two stories relate to the same environment and carachter: Ted and Etsu, an American soldier and the home girl in Japan. I liked them very much, because they show very clearly how understanding was difficult after Japanese defeat and during American occupation. It also shows how Japanese people acted in front of the enemy: without fighting, but trying to understand. Beside this, japanese also tryed to be respectful – and to obey their emperor, who told them to do what the former enemy would ask.

I have another Buck’s novel on my shelf, but it is about India… we’ll see if I will like it like the other ones.

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Hong gaoliang jiazu (Red Sorghum) – Mo Yan


Born in 1955, Mo Yan is a soldier. How many soldiers do you know that are able to tell such stories full of grief and Death and fear and love and mistery and nature? I do not wonder if his government did not allow him to leave his country and travel abroad.
A soldier who thinks by his own? OMG, please, this is too dangerous for chinese public image…

Anyway, the story is sometimes difficult to follow, because the author jumps from one year to another, but this not prevents you from falling in love with the characters; on the contrary: although you already know that someone will die in a certain moment and in a certain way (usually a very bloody way), this lets him be even dearer.

While you read you cannot distinguish anymore if the red of the landscape you see in front of your eyes is the one of the sorghum or the one of the blood.

The story takes place in 20th Century: I do not know if chinese people died more from their inner problems (famine, banditry, internal fights) or from Japanese invasion. The result, anyway, is always the same: sadness and cruel deaths (skinnings, genitals cuttings, rapes and lots more) for men, women and children.

And still, at the end of the novel, when you see that the hybrid sorghum has supplanted the natural red sorghum, and you understand that this is the end of an era, and despite its load of sufference and grief, you feel that you miss something. Life, maybe?

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The soul elegance – Emiko Kato

imageWhen you see a person with elegant soul, you immediately notice it: natural and slow movements, at easy smile, open eyes. I do not mean the fit out, nor the costy boots, not the fashion car. I just mean the person, with the inner light that makes you desire to stay with that person.

It doesn’t happen to me very often, in the last years, to meet such people. It happened more often when I practised aikido, and I do not know if the elegance was a cause or an effect of the martial art. Maybe both ones. The movements are slow, but not the result of inner brakes, and the speech is clear and soften. You know that if that person tells you that he/she will do a thing, he/she will simply do it, no excuses.

Now I mostly meed people who is accustomed to pretend and play: if something goes wrong, the fault is Always others’. If something goes well, the merit is Always theirs.
But the inner elegance is a way that each of us can take: a Do, in the Japanese sense. No matter what other people do.

The main subject of Kato’s book is that the outer elegance is something that you can have only if you have a clear heart (kokoro!): if you cultivate mean thinkings, then, I am sorry, you can wear expensive glasses and follow trade-marks, but you won’t ever be elegant.

And, above all, the path to elegance never ends.

Have a good day!

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