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The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm: A True Story of a Japanese Woman Paperback – October 31, 2006

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Sexual desire can be stimulated by the anxiety of aloneness, by the wish to conquer or be conquered, by vanity, by the wish to hurt and even to destroy, as much as it can be stimulated by love... but to love somebody is not just a strong feeling - it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise.
ERICH FROMM


Washington, D.C., 2003
As Lala watches the cherry blossoms tremble in the breeze, she can sense her culture in them. In spring, thousands of these blossoms bloom along the Potomac River, a gift to Washington, D.C. from the Japanese government. Like Lala, they have found home after a long cross-cultural journey.

Berlin, 1990
In September, ten days before the reunification of Germany, Lala was traveling through Berlin. At the time, West Berlin was surrounded by East Germany. It was a lonely island of democracy in a sea of Communism.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Intercultural Publishing; 3 edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4990327500
  • ISBN-13: 978-4990327507
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,039,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Sanchez VINE VOICE on February 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Having spent much of the last nine years around Japanese people in both Japan and the United States, this book and the author's experiences came as no surprise. In The Art of Loving, Lala Okamoto, a young Japanese girl interested in if not fascinated by cultures other than her own, sought out experiences with foreigners through travel abroad and the Internet. The general theme in the book seems to be that the personal relationships we build as individuals, in the long run, will either help or hurt us. The various experiences Lala has throughout the book range from her spending time in California remarking on the differences between the U.S. and Japan, to falling for Peter, a Taiwanese guy she meets while in the U.S., to interacting through email with Robert, a divorced older man in Detroit, to whom Lala eventually sacrifices almost everything to begin a new life with. But the majority of the book is spent detailing her relationship with Rolf, a German man living in Japan.

Rolf and Lala become friends in Japan (Lala notes her travel to Germany early on in the book) despite the fact that he has a fiancée in Thailand and a child somewhere else. At first, the relationship seems harmless - both people appear lonely in Japan and their conversations become comforting and uplifting to each other. But within a short time the reader can tell that Rolf, like many other men, is merely putting in his time, allowing her to become emotionally attached to him so that he can sleep with her, which he eventually achieves. Lala, not surprisingly, believes that she has fallen in love with him and his hurt by his eventual rejection of her for his other women. But it is around this time that she meets Robert through an online pen-pal site. His warm emails from Detroit give her reason to keep living.
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Format: Paperback
This book contains the memoirs of a Japanese woman looking for a loving relationship. In search of cultural adventures and a change of pace from her life in Japan, Okamoto traveled the world, stopping to study in Berlin and San Francisco. She made close friends amongst other foreign students studying in San Francisco, but when she returned to Japan, she met someone who made her life fall apart. This man, a German, was fascinated with Asian women and preyed upon them, taking them for all he could get without giving anything in return. Although without a hint of remorse, he admitted cheating on his first wife while still married to her, Okamoto didn't pick up on the clues that this was an evil man. She fell for him, hook, line and sinker, and in this book she recounts the sordid details of their affair, as well as a more positive story that emerged in the aftermath of the romantic disaster.

Okamoto's story of what happens when a vulnerable romantically inexperienced Japanese woman meets a Western predator demonstrates how cultures can clash in a particularly nasty way. Any time one moves from a culture where behavior is tightly constrained to a culture where the rules are looser, or constraining in different ways, it can be hard to deduce that any rules are operating at all. Perhaps it was this that caused Okamoto to miss the clues that her new German boyfriend's behavior was unacceptable even by the standards of his own culture. Okamoto includes some interesting observations about American culture based on her time studying in California. She also spent some time living on the East Coast, and found the cultural differences between regions in America remarkable.
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By Clemente on January 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book pictures some of the multiple facets of love through Lala's eyes, but I still feel it lacked a more in depth analysis of the topic. Nonetheless, it is an easy to read story, which is pleasant when you are tired of reading more philosophically intricate topics.
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