I recall the almost empty bookstores of my recent American past (when I could find them), wondering at the vapidity that had descended through overuse of device. The thing is, my early exposure to the book world was intimate––memories of hanging out as a tyke in Paperback Traffic on Polk in San Francisco, where my mom* was a bookstore manager in the late 1970s. There was a social aspect to reading. The city was not always so….
I wonder if publishing Arisugawa Park online is the way to go with a novel of its type. A lot of patience is lost in the face of too much choice. With the book as a physical artifact you muddle through one person’s conception of reality––precisely because that is what you have to work with.
Sitting at Chin Loong’s on the Boulevard, having my usual chicken over rice and pale pilsen, watching the sun set over the port, just the right degree of seedy, I am committed to understanding Barry Eisler’s heavy-handed views on Asia. I run through a layman’s version of how to make an assassination look natural, I learn his views on waterboarding, his favorite bistro in Carmel, his preferred bottles of wine.*
I am very picky about what I read these days, or not picky at all.
There are other situations where I am completely non-picky. I will read any semi-intelligible author with enthusiasm, provided I come across the book in a suitably random way. Barry Eisler came to me for 20 pesos on a table of second hand books, an incidental adjunct to a clothing sale. I had no choice but to pick it up.***
Ari Park 1.13 “Hoi Koro” is on the way and should be up tonight. The editing went a lot smoother, the interview between Kaori and GEON manager Yuki about our missing teacher Steve is self propelling. My aim is to get back into the 2-3 sections per week groove, which will keep readers picking up the serial novel bait.
** Pet peeve about all those contemporary writers who inform readers where to eat, what to listen to. When did this insidious trend start exactly? I have recently encountered this in Harry Bosch, John Rain, and Patrick Ness––it goes a long way toward convincing me to never read another work by that particular author. My characters do not necessarily listen to what I do. They eat (heresy of all heresies) fish. They listen to Taylor Swift. They are stubbornly not me. If I want you to know what I am listening to I’ll tell you here, on my blog, not in a literary work. FD: right now I am listening to (ahem) Taylor Swift… Bo’s Coffee, no choice.
***Hostels are preferred, because the books tend to be quirkier, but I sometimes spend months away from the travelers’ circuit.