I don’t wear wigs.
The sadness that the absence of my sister Lisa brings doesn’t seem to fade in either intensity or tumult. I know she’s gone, but as cliche as it sounds, there are moments in time when I truly forget that she is inaccessible. My instincts can’t be changed, so my brain sometimes finds itself catching up with them in the nanoseconds that a thought takes to form.
I try very hard not to be affected by other people and their accomplishments. I honestly feel happy for another when they encounter some sort of acknowledgement for their hard work, or if they achieve a key milestone they had been striving towards for a long time. We are all humans, and we should all be thankful for not only one another, but for the solidarity that the human condition brings to us all.
Adding to the burgeoning variety of reviews that Reading Other People has been posting, Michael Pronko’s refreshing “Motions and Moments More Essays on Tokyo” can best be described as a cultural reveal on one of the most fascinating parts of the modern world.
The piece is collectively comprised of essays that brilliantly looks at fragments that, as a respective whole, help to identify and shed light on what life in Tokyo is really like. Instead of falling into the trap of focusing on the sensationalism of certain types of Tokyo life (I’m thinking the misappropriation by Americans of the Harajuku culture), Michael Pronko documents the many moving pieces of Japan’s capital city and sheds key insights and revelations into the ubiquity of Japanese living.
Among my favorites of the 42 essays is the state of cleanliness of Tokyo-ian construction sites where Pronko documents his experiences with the apparent constant state of cleaning in this mammoth city. In his words, it’s like Tokyo has been photoshopped for optimum beauty, including construction sites. Fascinating stuff. The author isn’t judging, analysing, or speculating here. He is merely an observer in a foreign country that operates on its own ideals and principles, and, simply put, is writing about what he sees without the rose-colored glasses that so often shades Western culture.
Everyone knows a “Basement Man”. You know that guy who always seems to be doing something crazy and unpredictable, be it being day drunk in the local bar to waxing on the state of philosophy. Sometimes we avoid him, sometimes we embrace him.
In Joseph Ferguson’s short story collection “Southbound”, one such “Basement Man” is written about. His zany situations are documented with precision and panache, clear signs that the author is adept at the written word. Ferguson ensures that he does not create one-dimensional characters or wooden dialogue. Instead, each short story comprising “Southbound” is almost like an insight into one person’s plot in life and their colorful approach to life without subscribing to any prevalent formulas encompassing modern literature today.
“Southbound” is edgy and unsettling at times, but it’s also quite riveting. The reader is along for the ride of life that belongs to one “Basement Man”, whether he likes or not. We are not judging him, and he is surely not judging us because he’s just trying to get by.