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Audrey Hepburn's Neck Paperback – March 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671526723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671526726
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.4 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Alan Brown's first novel is a comic tale of sexual desire and bad manners set in contemporary Tokyo. Twenty-three-year-old cartoonist Toshi is obsessed with slim American women, and his best friend, an American named Paul, is obsessed with Japanese men. Toshi begins having an affair with Jane, his English teacher, who turns out to be insane; Paul has an endless stream of Japanese boyfriends all of whom leave him. Audrey Hepburn's Neck is slyly funny and very observant. Brown is equally concerned with sex as an obsession and the erotics of cultural differences, but his comic masterstrokes are in being able to conjure up the humor in looking for sex and the sometimes tragedy in getting it. Audrey Hepburn's Neck is resonant, charming and very witty. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Writing with the assurance of a born novelist, Brown has produced a witty, touching coming-of-age story that is a keenly observed, diverting depiction of Japanese-American culture clash. Ever since his ninth birthday, when he saw his first Audrey Hepburn film, narrator Toshi Okamoto has fantasized about foreign women. When Toshi, now a young commercial artist in Tokyo, is seduced by Jane, his teacher at the Very Romantic English Academy, he finds the aggressively sexy, self-dramatizing American woman confusing, without realizing that she is psychotic. Not only Americans are unknowable, however; so are Toshi's parents. It was difficult growing up in the small northern town of Hokkaido after his mother left his father, to move not far away across the peninsula, and Toshi has always felt socially uncomfortable and embarrassed because of his parents' estrangement. Theirs had been a household ruled by silence, and one of the secrets Toshi unlocks in the course of this narrative is the reason for his family's sadness and isolation. Meanwhile, however, he undergoes a series of adventures with other Americans: his gay friend, Paul, and the composer Lucy, both of whom teach him some essential truths. These events take place against a backdrop of daily events in postwar Japan, from the 1960s to the 1980s, a society that is changing almost as fast as Toshi's perceptions of life. The Emperor is dying; women are auditioning to become the wife of the Crown Prince; anti-American riots are sweeping the country. Brown tells his tale in spare but vigorous prose, energized by dazzling visual images and haunting metaphors. The reader is caught up in Toshi's fear, excitement and frustration as he encounters strange and amazing Western concepts, and as his notion of himself changes. This captivating first novel is delightfully buoyant and full of surprises. BOMC and QPB selections; film rights to Wayne Wang; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Alan Brown's style is quite magical, and eloquently expresses Toshi's story.
"blissengine"
I enjoyed the characters Paul and Toshi, and even Jane and Lucy, though I can see how some people might think they were a bit stereotypical.
Andrew C.
The characters in the book are so one-dimensional that there is nothing they say or do that is the least bit interesting.
MV

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ladyce West on November 25, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very nice, different novel that is difficult to put down and in its course illustrates some of modern Japan. There are two parallel stories going on, all centered around a young man finding his place in society. One of the stories shows the manner in which young Japanese, reared still in a very traditional manner, adjust and adapt their lives to a Global modernity, and particularly an American-influenced world. The other story shows how despite the long shadow of WWII the Japanese are slowly coping and dealing with their past, their losses, and their own prejudices. So our hero stands in fact at a turning point. He and his generation by extension are the link between these two worlds.

The world of Toshi, our hero, an exceedingly creative guy, is the source for much amazement to the Western reader, from the loneliness of the mega city, to the megaphone messages in the subway. Pets and coffee houses are also the source for much wonder.

The book deals overtly and covertly on prejudices. Prejudices the Japanese have about Americans and those that Americans have about the Japanese. Prejudices against homosexuals, against Koreans. But all of it is done deftly, with amazing humor.

Alan Brown's observations on how others can perceive Americans, in Japan or out are very keen, funny and true. But he is a master in finding quirky juxtapositions, and more than that in making all his characters three-dimensional and believable.

This is certainly a novel worth reading. If you have a weekend coming up and would like something offbeat, occasionally hilarious, and fascinating to read, give this one a try, you will not regret it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I took a gamble when this intriguing title caught my eye since I had not read any review or heard any recommendations from friends. I found myself drawn into this book, captivated by its magic which compelled me to finish it in a 24 hour period.This American author looks at the westernization of Japanese culture and shows us American characters from a Japanese viewpoint. His writing style provides a witty perspective, imbued with subtle and ironic humor. The nuances of human emotional interactions and interrelationships are not lost, even with characters so far fetched they border on the absurd. They are astonishing and unusual,a strange and motley mix. They transport the reader to fascinating and unexpected places and times. The plot intertwines past and present.The intriguing title is appropriate,linking geographically separate settings and times with a unifying theme , the Japanese fascination with the West.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1997
Format: Paperback
Depressing as it is to agree with the Kirkus Review, I do. This is an elegant take on an uncomplicated, emotional story. A young man learns to forgive his parents their frailities and, in the process, understands his attraction to white chicks. A gutsy move for the author, since according to the jacket photo, he himself is a white guy, choosing to write from the point-of-view of a young Japanese artist with a troubled family history. Nonetheless, Alan Brown uses humor and beautiful descriptive sentences to make it work. Does he stereotype the Japanese? I think a more important question is: Do we care about Toshi or do we put the book down? I did... and I didn't. Plus, the "Epilogue" is perfect. (But then, I'm white and own my own copy of "Breakfast at Tiffanys".)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Sadler on October 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
It all started when Toshi's mother took him to see "Roman Holiday," starring Audrey Hepburn and commented "Oh her neck...isn't it lovely?" From that point on, Toshi was forever hooked on western girls and culture, sometimes much to his disappointment and bewilderment.
Toshi is a young Japanese man with a fixation on the West and like many of his young, Japanese contemporaries he struggles to find his identity while sometimes completely baffling his parents. After reaching adulthood, he leaves the fishing village he was raised in and moves to Tokyo where he is sometimes overwhelmed by the city and is constantly exposed to the influences of American culture.
Brown draws us into Toshi's world as Toshi deals not only with his adjustment to life on his own but also to the separation of his parents, a separation which eventually leads Toshi to a family secret that had never even been hinted about to him.
This is a highly unique look into the life of a young man struggling with his culture and the influences of other cultures. And it is highly recommended. Brown does an incredible job of bringing all the characters in this novel to life. If you are looking for something different and even a little quirky to read, pick up a copy of "Audrey Hepburn's Neck," you won't be disappointed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "blissengine" on October 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This positively breathtaking novel explores foreign cultures (specifically American) through the eyes of the Japanese. Toshi grew up in a remote area of Hokkaido in a silent and tense household. Captivated by Audrey Hepburn in the movie "Roman Holiday", he begins a lifelong love affair with American women. He moves to Tokyo to live with his friend Paul, a gay American. Toshi doesn't always understand his American friends, and sometimes feels out of place in his relationships, and it is only through the revelation of his parents' tragic past that he is able to climb out of his stifled history and embrace unencumbered joy. Alan Brown's style is quite magical, and eloquently expresses Toshi's story. Such a wonderfully beautiful book!
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