Friday, August 31, 2007

BCOO: Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden

I know more about geisha than I ever wanted to know.

I am really glad to be done with this book. I loved the language in the beginning, but that only took me so far. The central character had no actual character. None that I could find, anyway. It felt like she was simply a tool to teach me about geisha. And I don't want to know about geisha. Maybe I'm forcing my ideals on Japanese culture, but it seems like a completely degrading and socially repugnant practice.

Of course, it didn't help that the author is from Tenessee and male (that's him, on the left of this post). He didn't examine any of the implications of geisha-ism. Maybe that's why people like it.

I'm not saying a male author can't write women characters well - Wally Lamb manages to create a truly believable, extremely troubled woman in She's Come Undone - but this one completely missed the mark for me. He lets the main character think someone is disgusting, but he doesn't let her delve into the depths of her emotion. It just wasn't authentic for me.

As far as the Japanese thing, sure, he has an MA in Japanese History, speaks Mandarin Chinese, and lived in Japan for awhile. Now he lives in Boston, and has written a book tinged with American male sentiment. I didn't buy it.

Next: Slow Man, by J.M. Coetzee. I'm thrilled. I loved Disgrace.


Niki Yan said...

i like the book....the movie so-so

Amanda Faye Lacson said...

Agreed...the time period descriptions were interesting enough, especially as I had just visited Kyoto. But the lead character was boring. And how many times did we have to hear that she had a lot of water in her?

russeldewey said...

I'd never really been interested in Asian culture before, but this book totally got me into it! I really really wish that Arthur Golden would write another book, this is his only one!

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