Since I'm in the middle of all the prepwork I've been doing for anime.about.com as well as juggling my regular work, there's been that much less time to post about ... well, anything at all. So, some quick rundown.
- I saw Sakuran and loved it; it's amazing this hasn't been picked up for a U.S. distribution deal yet. Go find it if you can. I plan to write a full review but I doubt I'll have the time right now.
- I don't expect to be doing much work on my books for a bit yet because of this craziness. Not what I wanted, but there you go.
- On that note, it looks like there will be no sales table for Genji Press at NYAF. There's just too much for me to do at the show in my newly-minted official capacity. I'm not going to be able to get my money back either — the last chance I had to do that was back in May, so I guess I'm just gonna have to swallow the loss. It also looks like I won't have time to vend at any shows from now on, so I will have to turn my efforts towards marketing my work directly to agents/publishers. This was going to happen eventually; I've been building up to it for some time now. It's just happening a lot sooner than I thought, and for different reasons.
Also, earlier this week, while on a shopping trip in the city with friends, I ran across a number of goodies:
- A reprint of a collection of Ryunosuke Akutagawa's stories, which was original published in 1960 under the unfortunate name of Exotic Japanese Stories and has a translation every bit as dated as the title suggests. This one has interior and cover art by Yuko Shimizu, who did the artwork for the English editions of the Moribito novels, so it isn't all bad. But part of me is tempted to attempt a retranslation of some of the stories within, because I'm just that nuts.
- Seen That, Now What?, a moviegoing guide written in the style suggested by the title. It's not recent (1998) but there's a lot in there that I have only scratched the surface of. The format alone is half the fun.
- Death March on Mount Hakkōda, which is about a little-known incident where a platoon of Japanese army officers were sent into the northern mountains during winter 1902, on a training exercise (in anticipation of the Russo-Japanese war), and almost all of them froze to death or starved because their commanders ignored the locals' advice about how dangerous the terrain was in wintertime.
And some goodies I picked up both online and at the local library's book sale:
- The Dark Side: Infamous Japanese Crimes and Criminals. From the same fellow who brought us Shocking Crimes of Postwar Japan, this covers some of the same ground but goes further back into Japanese history and also contains a ton of interesting information about crime and law enforcement in the Edo period.
- The Art of Clear Thinking, by Rudolf Flesch. Yes, the same man who gave us Why Johnny Can't Read. This book's somewhat dated (it's from the Fifties and boy does it ever show it), but it has some still-applicable conceits about how to use one's own brain effectively. How do you have insights? What do you do with them? How do you see the things no one else can see? What kind of relationship does the law have to the application of intelligence or logic? How do you not drive yourself bugnuts insane trying to come up with an answer to something?
- The Way of Chuang Tzu, by Thomas Merton. A Christian thinker of a most most Zenlike and Buddhist persuasion, Merton did a great deal of valuable work about the valuable similarities between those belief systems towards the end of his life. Here, he tackles the Tao and provided us with an in-a-nutshell anthology for what would prove to be one major source of inspiration for Zen Buddhism.
- J.K. Huysmans, Against Nature. A book admired by many, from Oscar Wilde to Lester Bangs to Richard Hell — it in fact was a pivotal element in the essay written by the former about the latter in Psychotic Reactions. Huysmans is for me in the same category as Knut Hamsun, an author who still hasn't received the kind of broad literary appreciation he deserves and who only might now be seen through clear eyes.