"Evocative, elegant, elusive, and ethereal." -Pat Hartman -- Pat Hartman
"Evocative, elegant, elusive, and ethereal." -Pat Hartman -- Review
As a lover of books, I sometimes curse the computer for what it has done to the written word, and occasionally to those who practice the art of novel writing most adeptly. In the name of interactivity, we can now read thinly plotted "cybernovels" on-line, or purchase CD-ROMs, mixing and matching narratives (sometimes a life's work) with a mouse click, artificially altering linear stories to suit our whims. We can participate in corporate-subsidized, hypertext serials, judged by much-praised, well-compensated novelists on holiday. Ah, progress Todd Shimoda, who won the John Updike-judged Amazon.com serial competition last year, has structured his new novel by applying the mix-and-match, CD-ROM strategy to the page. Shimoda is a good writer-the main narrative piece of 365 Views of Mt. Fuji is a spare but engaging story, fraught with meditations on madness, sex, art, and spirituality. The problem here is in the constant flow of asides that fill the novel's margins-"character bytes," they're called-only occasionally supplying vital plot information or setting description, more often proving disjointed and distracting. Between the "bytes," the text, and the over 400 fine but cramped illustrations that fill nearly every page, the reader experiences a kind of constant sensory overload, detracting from the book's central focus-the story. Then again, maybe I've gotten it all wrong. Maybe the experience of shifting one's eyes from text to margin to picture is the real point of Shimoda's book, making it more of an exercise than a novel. While the sense of formal experiment is admirable, 365 Views of Mt. Fuji truly does belong in an on-line format, out on some Web site, where interactivity is a suitable substitute for pleasurable reading. -- From Independent Publisher
The layout of the book is designed to agitate, if not actually madden, the reader. Yukawa's story is paralleled, in marginal notes, by those of the other characters, forcing eye and attention into a constant, dizzying zigzag. The whole complicated tale is a metaphor for the author's view of modern Japanese society as an assemblage of incompatible elements and traditions that create psychological civil war in its citizens. If the novel's purpose is grim, its action is lively and the symbolism is provocative. -- The Atlantic Monthly, Phoebe-Lou Adams
About the Author
Todd Shimoda is associate professor of communication and information technology at Colorado State University.
L.J.C. Shimoda is an illustrator, digital artist, and designer.