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Tune In Tokyo:The Gaijin Diaries Kindle Edition
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|Length: 294 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Don't expect great insights or to learn anything new about Japan.
I didn't mind that Tim was self-absorbed,ignorant and clueless at the beginning of the book. One travels to discover and learn. Or some of us do. But the typical chapter in this book will have Tim observing some typically Tokyo scene and then go off into some kind of fantasy riff as if the stuff happening in Tim's head was more real than what he was seeing. Worse, the fantasy seemed to shut off his natural curiosity about what he saw so he remained ignorant and was never driven to find out why.
At only one point did he come close to grasping an essential difference between Japan and America and that was in the chapter on karaoke. He notes that Americans hog the microphone playing the big star that they see in their heads. Then he talks about going out drunk with a group of Japanese who when one person sang would act like the back up singers/musical group. And he got into it--he liked being part of the group with everybody participating...but it didn't lead him to a better understanding of the importance of the group to the Japanese persona. At the end of the chapter he declares his intention of continuing to hog the microphone in the American Way. It's sort of funny, as by chapter 15, we're familiar with Tim's ego but since this the closest he's come to recognizing something outside of himself, it's also disappointing.
There are better books to find something out about Japan; some are more entertaining then this one. But Anderson has a gift for writing and for depicting arresting images whether they are fantastic montages or Tokyo street scenes. He can be irritating, obnoxious and clueless but he's not vicious. He's openly gay. That's more important to him than to me, but I feel compelled to mention it. I laughed several times reading this book and almost gave up reading it several times. I heartily recommend this book to fans of Tim Anderson.
Unfortunately, it kind of let me down. The writing, for me, was hard to follow. There were times when Mr. Anderson would launch into detailed fantasies mid-story. A lot of the times, it was hard to distinguish what he was actually seeing and doing and what he was just fantasizing about. Another thing that made the book hard to read was the use of really really long, detailed sentences that used several examples and descriptions and references all crammed into an incredibly long run-on-esque sentence that when I was in junior high and high school my teachers would always berate me about and threaten me with certain death unless I beat it into my poor hormonal, adolescent brain that it was wrong and I avoided them at all costs. <<< Kind of like that.
The result of this made want to fast forward to the end of several paragraphs to bypass all of the (at times) unnecessary description and fluff.
As for the content, I laughed a few times and I think the author was spot on in his description of certain things. Other times, I found myself raising an eyebrow at what I was reading. I felt a lot of times that I was just reading a big gay stereotype. Some of the references in the book maybe outdate me (sorry!), but it just felt like he was turning himself into a gay caricature to make a point.
Usually when moving to a new country and living there for an extended period of time, you change as a person. I didn't really get that from this book. If there was any self-realization or maturing, it didn't come through very strongly. I feel like Mr. Anderson didn't really write about and describe the culture as much as he could have. For someone reading this book with no real idea of Japan or its culture (especially Tokyo's), it might be kind of hard to grasp some of what he's talking about.
Overall, I thought the book was funny at parts, but lacked substance. The other characters in the story seemed very one dimensional and just seemed to be kind of...there.It also ended pretty abruptly and I felt the ending tried to be deep and introspective, but it wasn't well-executed. Sorry, Mr. Anderson. Maybe next time :(