Embroidered Garden Flowers by Kazuo Aoki

Roost Books (to be published in January 2018). In the twenty-first century, while the traditional embroidery styles sashiko (“little stabs”) and nihon shishu (ornate symbolic stitchery), have continued to enchant and engross stitchers, there has also developed a less-stylised kind of Japanese decorative stitching. This popular kind of embellishment is more varied than the darning-style stitching of sashiko and less painstaking than the fine satin-stitch of nihon shishu. One category of modern Japanese embroidery often features ‘kawaii’ figures in stem and outline stitch – animals, people, household implements – and is popularly used on children’s clothing. Another school focuses on the botanical – landscapes, plants,…

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Masters of Atlantis (by Charles Portis)

Everyone knows that the real Atlantis is preserved in a Dubai hotel
(Picture by Rokaszil)

Everyone knows that the real Atlantis is preserved in a Dubai hotel (Picture by Rokaszil)

(by Charles Portis) (1985) Yes, you do know something of Charles Portis’ work – he wrote the novel True Grit which was made as a film in 1969 and again in 2010.   Rooster Cogburn is shrewd.  Lamar Jimmerson, from Gary, Indiana, Master of Atlantis, is not. True Grit is poignant and amusing. Masters of Atlantis is hilarious, a gloriously weird child of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood and Blaise Cendar’s Moravagine written by a kinder, more whimsical grand master of the hilariously absurd and deluded. (This is a long review, with more of the plot than we would usually include (no real spoilers), to convey this amazing…

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Salinger

JDsmokes

(Documentary by Shane Salerno, 2013) (The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, 1951) The consolation of philosophy.  That gave Salinger some peace from his war-borne PTSD, his difficulty with close relationships, his hankering for younger women, his feather-like sensibilities and his disdain for almost any other living writers. It also gave us his best book, Franny and Zooey (1955), but regretfully, it conferred upon him an unwholesome permit to abjure the world, retreat to a snow-bound hut and write for the sake of writing. Alas, he may have been clapped-out by the time he perfected his Unabomber impersonation – his 1965 story,…

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Six Four (by Hideo Yokoyama)

September 14, 2017 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Fiction, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WRITING & LITERATURE |
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Six Four, a best-selling sensation in Japan, is the first of Hideo Yokoyama’s novels to be translated into English. Yokoyama previously worked as an investigative journalist for a regional newspaper, and the main theme of his book is the relationship between a regional police force and the media. Superintendent Yoshinobu Mikami having been a detective for over twenty years is,  for reasons which are not clear (at least not to him), appointed Media Relations Director in the Administrative Affairs department of his local Prefecture.  He is the unhappy liaison between the local and Tokyo-based TV and press on the one hand and the police on…

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On the Birthday Omnibus

September 5, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, FILM, HISTORY, MUSIC, OPERA, WRITING & LITERATURE |
Photo by Harry Whittier Frees

Photo by Harry Whittier Frees

September 5 Many happy birthdays to a range of historical and cultural notables!! 1638: Louis XIV The great empire-builder applied his zeal to the foundations laid by Cardinal Richelieu.  In the end, zeal undid much of his work but he still left a mighty legacy – he could little foresee on his 1715 deathbed that his great regal empire would last well under a century. Louis to the Duc d’Orléans on his deathbed: “‘You are about to see one King in his tomb and another in his cradle. Always cherish the memory of the first and the interests of the…

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