- Paperback: 226 pages
- Publisher: ENC Press (December 1, 2004)
- ISBN-10: 0975254022
- ISBN-13: 978-0975254028
- Package Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,949,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cherry Whip Paperback – December 1, 2004
About the Author
Michael Antman is a veteran advertising creative director who spent two and a half years as a cross-cultural trainer in Japan. While living there, he also wrote a weekly magazine column on English business idioms.
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Early in the novel, Hiroshi is struck with a rare impermanent paralyzing sickness in which he is bed bound in a foreign country and needs to relearn all of his basic motor skills. During his punishing rehabilitation he comes to realize that he may never play music again and needs to come to grips with his own personal flaws as his own life tumbles to rock bottom.
The most compelling part in Antman's novel is Hiroshi's journey back to his childhood and his relationship with his sister, Shizuka, in the small Japanese town Ichikawa. As a child in Ichikawa, Hiroshi follows his sister along the Forbidden Pathway and comes to finally comprehend his sister's secret as an adult. Michael Antman's writing style reminds me very much of Mark Salzman and his character's journey through ones self. This is an exceptional novel, well written and inspired by life's surprises
Hiroshi is an accomplished Japanese jazz clarinetist, newly arrived in the Big Apple for his North American debut. But what awaits him, instead, is one catastrophe after another, including a rare and mysterious neurological disorder. Throughout Hiroshi's adventures and misadventures in New York, we see in him the sort of obsessive personality that leads, on the one hand, to his mastery of jazz, and on the other to his fixations with language, familial relations, race cars, food and even home hardware, for heaven sake.
There was a moment in reading Cherry Whip, when I sat back and laughed out loud, marveling at how much this tortured main character and I have in common emotionally. Though I don't know beans about jazz or Japan, I came to believe I understood them better through Hiroshi's eyes and realized just how universal are our fears, misunderstandings and personal demons.
In the course of the story, there are other finely drawn characters, such as my personal favorite, Maureen, a young musician and love interest of Hiroshi's, who both attracts and repels him with her archetypical New York abrasiveness and charm. Hiroshi's enigmatic father makes an appearance, too, as does the ghostly memory of Hiroshi's tortured and very deceased sister.
But don't get the idea that this is a tale that wallows in gloom and angst; through all Hiroshi's misgivings and missteps, Antman delivers a modern parable of the human condition, and one that provides hope for Hiroshi's deliverance, as well as ultimately our own.
Added a few weeks later:
Having read Cherry Whip twice, I'm even more impressed with the quality of its writing and the depth of its main character, Hiroshi. If Haruki Murakami is concerned with the mystery of life, Cherry Whip is about the mystery of character. Confronted with physical adversity that has destroyed his promising future as a jazz musician, Hiroshi does virtually everything wrong as he wanders through a fog of desparation and resentment. Yet, somehow, Hiroshi is the farthest thing from pathetic. Instead, the reader roots for him at every turn. The ending sent a shiver up my spine.
Mr. Antman brings to his novel a wealth of enthusiasms, for food, music, language, and an unrelenting attentiveness to the sensory experience. For other authors, these are sometimes portrayed as distractions from the true core of life. For Antman, they provide the very texture of a rich existence.