Book Review | Wrong about Japan : a father’s journey with his son by Peter Carey

wrong about japan peter carey.jpgCarey and his son travel to Japan and meet with various anime and manga experts, artists/writers and publishers. This delightful little book is a quick read, which highlights the essences of Carey’s “interviews” and thoughts. From meeting Mr. Miyazaki and Mr. Tomino, men behind some of Japan’s most popular anime, to a traditional sword maker and a teenage Mr. Donut, Carey has created a book of interest to pop culture fans and the general Japanophile.

I picked up this book to get in the groove for an upcoming trip to Japan. I laughed aloud as I read about dining experiences and appreciated cultural references that may be helpful during my travel. Having seen most of the referenced animes certainly provided me with a background for better understanding and relating to the text, but one does not have to be an anime nerd to get something from this book. This nonfiction is fun and easy to digest. Check it out from a library near you!

*If you’ve enjoyed reading Wrong About Japan, you may be interested in The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life by Andy Raskin (2009)

Book Review | Het Diner (The Dinner) by Herman Koch

book cover Het Diner (The Dinner) by Herman KochThe Dinner was an excellent read. With a simple and very clear narrative style it immediately drew me in. Reminiscent of the movie Carnage, the plot of this book centers on two sets of parents (the husbands happen to be brothers) and an incident involving their sons. The four adults are out to dinner for almost the entire duration of the book, but Koch seamlessly incorporates past events leaving you with a much fuller story than just parents having a dinner discussion. Through these passages, the reader is able to gain an understanding of and relate to the characters on a different level.

Dealing with familial confrontation, The Dinner would make an excellent movie. I loved the raw text and the informality of the narrator, making him very realistic. Though the story takes place in the Netherlands, it could have happened anywhere. Told by a man who has already gone over the edge himself, this novel depicts the struggle of what to do when your children have gone too far. I felt like I could really relate to some of the characters and did not want this book to end. Although there are still hold queues at many libraries, check to see if your public library has it.

Film Review | Alamar by Pedro González-Rubio

Alamar DVD cover imageAnother interesting indie film, Alamar deals with a son from separated parents who goes to visit his father at the sea. This is not to say a seaside vacation, but a way of life that takes place in the sea itself. A fisherman living in a wooden dwelling that is accessible only by boat or swimming shares his life with his young son who has grown up with his mother in a more traditional way – an apartment with electricity, TV and school. They fish for their food, collect lobsters and other sea creatures to sell for a living, and bond through a visiting bird they name “Blanquita”. There are beautiful shots of the sea and González-Rubio’s honest and straight-forward portrayal of the relationship between son, father and grandfather gives the viewer a new perspective to consider regarding less familiar ways of life.

View the Alamar trailer on YouTube.