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Sam Sattler

I find your attraction to Japanese fiction interesting to read about because I know so little about it, especially the classic literature from there. I've dipped into some modern Japanese fiction on occasion, and I thoroughly enjoyed it because of the glimpse into the "real" Japan that it gave me. But I've never had the courage to try something like the one you describe here.

Why is there never enough time to read everything I want to read? I always find myself looking back and wondering why I didn't explore world literature more than I do, but it never seems to happen in any meaningful terms.


Curiously I have had little interest in the past about traveling to Japan--as colorful as it seems--maybe it is the idea of the pop culture which seems particularly youth centered that has always made me think that it is just not for me. But I read Natsuo Kirino's crime novel Out years ago and was really impressed by it--I think my interest started there. Last year I read quite a few books, more traditional mysteries and a few classics and really got on well with them, that now I am very intrigued by the culture. It feels very exotic and different to me. If you want to try it, I highly recommend The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata, which won (well, it was mentioned in particular but I guess it is a body of work of an author) the Novel. It was very accessible and beautifully written. It is a simple story really, and not a long book, but it had such beautiful descriptions and their was a lament of the passing of time and modernization and the idea of losing a particular way of life and culture. Maybe I am, myself, nostalgic for a different world as we become so very mechanized and the world is lived online more these days--I feel we are losing something. I get that same feeling from the books I have read and I get the same feeling from the Tanizaki. It is very easy to read, really. Like any classic or more 'literay' work, it just calls for a slower approach. I do know, though, what you mean by wanting to read more books, or more of a particular kind. I find myself fretting sometimes by how much I am reading--how many books I am finishing--rather than just paying attention to the quality of the books (I do pay attention there as well, but...) which means there might just be fewer of them. I think that is why I have been reading fewer classics in general lately--they take longer which means you just finish fewer. Crazy--but there are SO many books I want to read--it is hard to think I need to just slow down.... (Which is sort of funny as I am a slow reading in any case!).

Sam Sattler

Thanks for the tip on The Old Capital; I'll find that one and see what happens.

I totally agree with you. Avid readers these days are caught in kind of a Catch-22. There are more good books out there than we can ever read, and some of the best of them, including the classics, require extra reading time from us. Sometimes I my mind wandering to what I want to read next instead of being able to immerse myself in the book I'm holding. I wish it weren't that way, but I think that's one of the brain changes we suffer in an online world.

Kathy A. Johnson

I share your interest in Japanese fiction, and have very much enjoyed the few books I've read. Whenever you discuss one, I put it on my list of TBR. Perhaps it is the leisurely pace that reading Japanese fiction inspires in me, or the thoughtful, gentleness of the books I've read so far. I know I'm generalizing about an entire country's literature when I've only read a teaspoon full of it, however! I do plan to continue my exploration of it, and have several Japanese books on my radar.


Hi Danielle! It's nice to drop in and see what you're up to these days. I, too, have begun to develop an interest in Japanese fiction, although my scant reading of it has largely been confined to a Murakami novel or two. By sheer chance one of my early 2020 books was Kawabata's Snow Country, a slim but incredibly evocative book and much to be savored. I just finished a modern novel, as different in setting as can be imagined, Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman; it was one of the oddest and most interesting novels I've read in some time.
I totally "get" your remarks about reading the classics -- they're wonderful, but we have to slow down and read in a different way. Several years ago I tried but put aside The Makioka Sisters; life was just too hectic, I was too distracted and it was a great book at the wrong time. I'm going to try it again this spring, hopefully with better success. I loved your quotes BTW; you've really whetted my enthusiasm for my second attempt!

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