I mentioned in an earlier post that the new book was selected as a notable book for January 2009 on the American Book Seller’s Association’s Indie Next List. From what I’ve gathered, books are nominated for the list by independent booksellers. In the list’s pamphlet for the month, a statement from the bookseller that nominated my book is quoted. Here’s the quote for the bookseller who nominated mine.
The Love We Share Without Knowing
by Christopher Barzak
“Christopher Barzak has woven such a fabulous story of the lives of several characters in Japan that I was hooked right away. This work of interrelated stories is an amazing contemplation on love.”
Sydne Conant, A Room of One’s Own Feminist Bookstore, Madison, WI
A Room of One’s Own Feminist Bookstore, by the way, is awesome. I always make a trip there when I’m in Madison, which is also, incidentally, a really awesome town.
Recently, Elizabeth Hand reviewed my new novel-in-stories and ferreted out a lot of influential material I’d been looking at and reading while I lived in Japan and wrote the book. One film that she didn’t mention but was influential on the book nonetheless, particularly in its dreaminess and it’s own film-in-stories type of structure, was Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, which, when I was living overseas, the writer Midori Snyder recommended to me. And it was a wonderful recommendation. Like the film (and book by Lafcadio Hearn) Kwaidan, which retells Japanese ghost stories and strange tales from a Western perspective, Kurosawa’s film looks at Japanese folklore and strange surreal occurrences from the filmmaker’s own subconscious perspective (of course made conscious in the film itself). At the beginning of each story segment in Dreams, a line of Japanese appears. In the English subtitles the translation states, “Once I had a dream,” but in my own translation of the line, it says, “I saw this sort of dream.”
Below are four segments of the first of the “dreams” in the film, about a young boy who witnesses a kitsune (fox spirits, pronounced key-tsu-nay) wedding procession, even though he’s been warned to not go looking for them, as they’re very private creatures and grow angry when disturbed. It’s beautifully filmed, and was one of the first encounters I’d had with kitsune folklore. It remains one of my favorites.
My New Year’s Day starts with a great, eerily knowing review of The Love We Share Without Knowing by Elizabeth Hand. Why so eerily knowing? Well, in this review, Elizabeth Hand recognizes several books and films that were very influential during the making of this book. They’re all Japanese books or films, and one would have to be at least somewhat a Japanophile to recognize their traces in my book. It was amazing to see someone do that. Also, I love the way she describes the structure of the book. In her reading, it’s what I was hoping I had made.
Christopher Barzak is another young writer who has avoided sophomore slump. One for Sorrow, his first book, was a lovely, lyrical ghost story, a melancholy ode to working-class adolescence that managed to be both affecting and humorous. His second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, is even better, one of the best books of the year.
You can read the whole thing here.
Aside from this, Happy New Year. One of my goals for the year is to write something joyful instead of melancholy, extroverted instead of introverted, playful instead of serious. I suspect I will have to change some of the ways I perceive things to do so. But that could be a good thing. Fingers crossed and intentions set. Full steam ahead.