Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ern's Monthly Page Turners (September 2010)


Well, okay. Just when I thought I got caught up on my book reviews, another month has ended and its now the beginning of November. Which means I need to write my book reviews for the month of October as well. Only three titles this month, and since two of them are in Japanese, I provided a review in Japanese as well. The first book may seem like a simple guide book but it is so jam packed with information it took a while to get through. As for the other Japanese title, reading it only proved that my Japanese kanji reading ability still has much room for improvement. I'm sure a native Japanese could probably finish the book in less than a day or at least within a week. Although it was most entertaining, it did take me nearly a month to read. The only English book featured this month was one that was spawned from a website of the same name. If you're a movie lover than you will be sure to enjoy that as well.

地球を遊ぼう![Chikyu de Asobou!] DREAM TRIP GUIDE edited by A-Works – The subtitle is pretty self-explanatory. This book is filled with 29 different dream trips and adventures. Information is provided on all trips including budget, best season to go, how to get there, arranging the trip, accommodations, and hints for the trip. Also included is information on nearby attractions. The book covers the entire world starting with the Americas and the Caribbean followed by Asia, Oceania, Europe and Africa. The final chapter give you information on taking an around the world tour. These trips can range in price from just under a $1000 to a little over $3000. As this is a Japanese publication, all trips are based out of Tokyo. The trips feature a wide range of activities as well. From driving across the U.S. in a recreational vehicle or river rafting down the Colorado River, to swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas or going on an eco-tour in Costa Rica. Two of my all time dream trips is featured as well. Seeing the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

さてさて、和書なので、日本語で感想も書くべきと思います。タイトル通りで分かりやすく、これは夢の旅行を満載してる本です。世界中で29の旅プランが載ってます。必要な情報 ‐ 予算とか、いつ行けば一番良い、宿、旅の計画もう全て提供してます。細かく書いてあるので、こういった夢の旅は現実に出来る可能性は十分あると思います。アメリカ、カリブ海、アジア、オーセニア、ヨーロッパ、アフリカ、どこでも魅力あるところばっかり。和書なので、旅のプランは全て東京からの出発。予算ももちろん円で。どうゆう旅と言えば、アメリカ横断、バハマでイルカと泳ぐ、コスタリカでエコツアーに参加するなど。自分の夢の旅も載ってました。ぺルにあるインカ帝国の天空の城、マチュピチュとか、アフリカジンバブエとザンビアの国境にある世界三大の滝の一つ、ビクトリア・フォールズ。写真だけを見ると血が騒ぐ!カラーフォトもいっぱい載ってます。最後に世界一周の情報もいろいろ書かれてます。旅好きな人なら、この本は凄く参考になると思います。さ~、いざ旅へ~!

FOUR WORD FILM REVIEWS by Benj Clews and Michael Onesi – When I fell behind writing my monthly book reviews, this was the book that inspired me to write my “Four Word Book Reviews” on Facebook. As I was four months behind (on my own schedule), I decided to give my Facebook friends the short and simple reviews so they would know that I haven’t stopped reading. Anyway, I was unaware of the website that spawned this book. Yep, thousands of people submit their “four word film reviews” on anything from Academy Award winning classics to the latest Hollywood releases. This book collects over 400 of them and I guarantee that some of them will make you laugh. Some of my favorites were written on the cover of the book itself such as “The Bourne Identity” (2002) - “One Bourne, many die”. Or “Jaws” (1975) - “Eat ship and die”. “The Hangover” (2009) – “What happened in Vegas”. Or how about the one for “Crash” (2004) – “Sandra not racist? Bullocks!”. Although my Facebook friends enjoyed my “Four Word Book Reviews”, I had one friend who said, “Don’t make it a habit”. It’s nice to know there are some people who actually read and enjoy my book reviews which keeps me reading and writing them!

孤独の中華そば「江ぐち」by 久住昌之 [Kodoku no Chuka Soba “Eguchi”] by Masayuki Kusumi ‐ If I were to translate the title of this book into English, it would be “The Lonely Noodle Shop [Eguchi]”. If I were to directly translate the title into English, it would be “The Lonely Chinese Noodle Shop [Eguchi]”. However, the shop is neither lonely, nor does it feature Chinese noodles. It’s a small neighborhood ramen shop. Of course there will be those who would argue that ramen is Chinese noodles but we will leave that debate for another time. This book is the culmination of a previously out of print book that featured the ramen shop [Eguchi] which was originally published in 1984. The book had the extremely long title of 「近くへ行きたい。秘境としての近所―舞台は“江ぐち”とゆうラーメン屋」which translates to something like [I want to go near (or “I don’t want to go far”). An unexplored region of my neighborhood. The stage is a ramen shop called “Eguchi”]. With a title as long as that, it’s no wonder it went out of print. This is such a fun story that reads like fiction, (well the stories in the beginning of the book behind the main characters who ran the ramen shop were a product of Kusumi’s imagination), but you could not deny the love Kusumi had for this shop and its ramen, or the people who made it. After moving to Tokyo, even I had my favorite haunts where I was also welcomed as a regular customer. Even if I ventured out on my own, I would always find a friend or acquaintance either eating or drinking at one of the places I frequented. However, unlike Kusumi, I usually became friends with the manager or owner of the establishments I went to. Americans might have a hard time understanding the intricacies of becoming a regular at a small joint but it does give you peak into a lesser known part of the Japanese culture. A more detailed review will be forthcoming on the “Asia by the Book” blog. マスター、付けといて。

小説ような本当の話です。元は1984年に出版された単行本「近くに行きたい。秘境としての近所―舞台は“江ぐち”とゆうラーメン屋」。これは絶版になりましたが、また2001年に新潮OH!文庫で「小説 中華そば“江ぐち”アクマとタクヤのラーメン屋。これも絶版になりましたが、今年2010年なんと、1984年に出版された本が今回「孤独の中華そば“江ぐち”」で復活。なぜ今さら出版されのか?ま、また著者の二十代に戻れないと説明にならない。当時3年も経ってない若手の漫画家久住は「Garo」とゆう雑誌で仕事をしてました。コラムも書いてたので、3巻連続で「江ぐち」の話も書いた。当時の編集長もそのコラムを気入って、久住にそのラーメン屋についての本を書かないかがきっかけ。それで、店と店に働いてるの人の許可も得ず、書きおらした本でした。それでも久住はバレないように思い「江ぐち」を通い続けた。ラーメン屋の人たちを勝手にあだ名をつけ、自分の妄想で彼らの生活まで書きおろした。働いてる人に付けたあだ名もおかしい。アクマ、オニガワラ、とタクヤ(タクヤは久住の弟拓也に似てる理由だけそのあだ名が付いた)。でもその店と店のラーメンと店の常連や店員、細かく観察して、細かく彼らの行動や働きぶりも書いた。本の出版後、久住は「江ぐち」に行っても、彼らは一切本の事の話は触れませんでした。そして、今年の一月、26年間営業した「江ぐち」が幕を閉じる。20何年も経て、久住にまた「江ぐち」に関する本は書きませんかってのことに、この本が誕生しました。久住の話によると「江ぐち」のオーナーが亡くなり、(久住の友達にゆうのは“江ぐちのオーナーが風呂で浮いちゃってさ~”)、で悲しいはずの話がちょこっと笑いますね。店の契約も更新せず、閉店とゆう形に終わりました。面白い、悲しい、切ない部分もありますか、この本は存分楽しめました。

No comments: