Friday, October 30, 2009

Interview with Motherlogue

Click on the title to read my latest interview, with Liz Sheffield on her blog Motherlogue. Liz moved to Japan in 1993, the year I left, and lived in Sapporo until 1995; in 1997 she went back for another year on the island of Shikoku. She grew up in Portland, Oregon (Gaby's home town) and now lives in Seattle (Alex's home town) so she has personally experienced all the geography of American Fuji! We talked about preparing to live in Japan, meeting yakuza, the process of writing the novel, and what I miss most.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

U Mass Lowell Reading Oct. 28

70 people came to my and David Daniel's reading on a wet and rainy afternoon in Lowell. The audience was mostly students, but also some professors and published local authors. Mega-doumo to all who came, and to the Literary Society and English Department for sponsorship and support.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Octopus Balls

Eguchi says eating takoyaki is a tourist requirement for a visit to Japan. Here is a behind-the-counter look at how deep-fried octopus balls are made. I admire the hand labor that goes into chopping, shaping, and coating the octopus tentacles, and how quickly these women worked in such a small space. I tried takoyaki more than once, but found them too tough and rubbery to chew well enough to swallow. They are about the size of golf balls, and close to what I would imagine a golf ball would taste like. Not for me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marubatsu's Pond

This is one of the ponds that inspired my fictional pond at Marubatsu's temple Gizenji.

from American Fuji, p. 351: "The water was opaque pea-green and looked like paint. The surface, perfectly still. A herd of tiny granite islands jutted up through the pea soup, some rusty with moss, others bare."

It's interesting that Japanese readers find the character of Marubatsu a familiar type of person they readily recognize, yet my American readers think he's the most unrealistic of my characters. The only thing about him that's inauthentic is his name. I named this Buddhist priest after a kind of test: true (maru) false (batsu).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"When You're a JET, You're a JET all the way . . ."

Click the title and scroll down to page 9 for a recent interview written by Veronika Ruff, a New York JET (Japan English Teachers) alum who lived in Shizuoka City. We agreed Shizuoka was not the Tokyo experience! It was a pleasure talking to her and finding out how much we had in common.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Spanish Edition Cover

I just received a copy of the new (July 2009) Spanish edition of American Fuji pubished by Emece, an Argentinian company. I think it captures the essence of the novel well. El monte Fuji era casi invisible en el verano pero, en los dias claros, ella veia esa silueta grandiosa y gracil dominando el cielo del norte.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Question Number 12

Here's a question from the reader's guide included in American Fuji:

Do you believe Gaby to be the strongest character among the Westerners (Lester, Michael, and Alex) even though she is regarded as a "sad woman" in Japan? Why or why not?

I'd like to know what you think!

Warning: comments may contain spoilers.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Clueless on Campus


This is me at my university office desk in 1991. I knew to answer the telephone with "moshi, moshi" but after that I had no idea what the caller was saying so perhaps I should not have answered. Notice the old rotary style phone. Even in 1991, phones had gone to buttons and I was surprised that Japan was not up to date. The tall metal closet behind me held my coat and shoes. Since I walked or biked to campus, I wore walking shoes each way and kept a couple pairs of heeled pumps in the office to put on when I arrived. This was regarded as odd, but oddly acceptable.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Green Tea


From my apartment, I walked or biked to the university and took this shortcut through green tea fields. These photos were taken on different days, before and after trimming, and from different directions. In Shizuoka, sidewalks were narrow or non-existent, so this stretch of my walk was a welcome relief from motor traffic.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

NEIBA Trade Show 03 Oct 2009

The long, rainy drive to Hartford, Connecticut was worth every tense moment on the turnpike. Here I am at the new Connecticut Convention Center wearing my orange author's badge. Inside the ballroom, I browsed tables full of interesting books and met book lovers who could talk about anything from Kafka to kashi. It was my first chance to meet the Penguin sales team, and I must say they made me proud to be a Penguin author. Special thanks to the folks from Worcester (my home town) who are happy to have American Fuji back in print and to Rachel for the photo. Go Indies! Go books!

Friday, October 2, 2009

One-Eared Rabbit with Pink Shoelaces

This photo was taken in front of a store on Gofukucho Street in downtown Shizuoka. Lester takes Alex for a walk on Gofukucho Street after lunch at Skylark (Chapter 12). In American Fuji, Lester has his own way of remembering the street's name.