Sunday, December 21, 2008

Monkeying around in Japanese media

My friend, literary translator, author and Tokyo University scholar Motoyuki Shibata, launched his literary journal Monkey Business at a rooftop party last spring in Roppongi, Tokyo. The latest two issues, nos. 3 and 3.5, are focused on J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories. Issue 3 carries Moto's translation of the entire book; 3.5 features a segment about the stories.

I first read Nine Stories when I was in my mid-teens. Like many young American boys, I was deep into the Salinger world, feeling both drawn to it and a part of it at once. I discussed this former obsession with Moto over dinner one evening in Tokyo, and he subequently invited me to contribute an essay to Monkey Business 3.5.

I was honored, and am even more so now that issue 3.5 has been released. My work appears alongside a 'taidan' (scholarly discussion) about Salinger between Moto and Toshiki Okada, and a prose poem about Nine Stories by Mieko Kawakami.

If you read Japanese, you can find the full table of contents on the Monkey Business order page here, and an article about Moto and the new issue from a recent edition of the Asahi Shimbun here.

My essay is titled: "Nine Stories and the death of the storyteller." I suspect I didn't realize how dark and even brutal the stories are when I first encountered them as a teenager. Or perhaps, like Orwell in Such Such Were the Joys, it is I who have changed.

Finally, Japanamerica received a nice nod from Douglas Glen, CEO of Imagi Studios, producers of the forthcoming CGI features of Astro Boy and Gatchaman, two watershed anime titles cited in the book. You can read (in Japanese) Glen's interview with Japan's Diamond business magazine online here.

And you can also grab a sneak preview (in English--er, actually in no specific language at all) of next year's Astro Boy release at the film's newly opened official web site.

As my friend Charles in LA often euphemistically signs off: "Back to shoveling snow." Though in this case, in NYC at least, I could mean it literally.

I don't, though. Not my job.

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