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Haiku Guy Paperback – November 28, 2013
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About the Author
David G. Lanoue is a professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana. He is a cofounder of the New Orleans Haiku Society, an associate member of the Haiku Foundation, and president of the Haiku Society of America. His books include translations (Cup-of-Tea Poems; Selected Haiku of Kobayashi Issa and Issa’s Best: A Translator’s Selection of Master Haiku); criticism (Pure Land Haiku: The Art of Priest Issa), and a series of “haiku novels”: Haiku Guy, Laughing Buddha, Haiku Wars, Frog Poet, and Dewdrop World. Some of his books have appeared in French, German, Spanish, Bulgarian, Serbian and Japanese editions. He maintains The Haiku of Kobayashi Issa website, for which he translated 10,000 of Issa’s haiku.
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The protagonist of this tale can be viewed as the literary tradition of haiku itself, and its uncanny survival generation to generation, age to age, even country to country, culture to culture, language to language -- in a world peopled by fools who move from mystery to mystery in ardent pursuit and need of haiku's redeeming, simple cogence. It is the nature, spirit and character of the haiku poem that this novel reveals; the text is replete with over sixty fine examples. The people are just passing through, but in their passing they play their brief, essential roles as revelators.
Plot? There is none -- not exactly a plot, anyway. Actions and events are spontaneous, neither predictable nor linear. The novel flows like time-consciousness flows. Past, present, and future intermingle in a joyful, convincing chaos that creates its own inevitable order and comfortable familiarity. Lanoue thrusts his characters into a Buddha-dream world of random events and meetings, misdirection, hopeless desire and grasping, at the center of which we find the great poet Cup-of-Tea (Kobayashi Issa) in his later years, living in Kashiwabara village. Seeking the Master's guidance comes the clueless and desperate wannabe village poet, Buck-Teeth. Out of their meeting Lanoue weaves a narrative fabric colored by Old Japan and haiku's literary history, real and imagined, with new threads added from the bars, cafes and shrines of New Orleans' dingy and holy Bourbon Street. Here is a tale that conveys with memorable force a comic vision of the creative process.
The less said about the plot the better, as the joy of discovery is surely one of the main reasons to read this book yourself.