February 15th, 2015

pissy red dragon from tammylee

Readerly fuman

Finished The Serpent's Tale, second of the Mistress of the Art of Death books set in the reign of Henry II and no more HA than you'd expect. Another 'eunuch castrated before puberty who's fully sexually functional' topos, and someone else (and her editor) who don't know how 'who' differs from 'whom'. Shall not pursue the series.

So turned to A Slight Trick of the Mind. Holmes and Japan: what's not to love? Well, Holmes disembarking from his ship in Tokyo itself, for a start. I suppose one could, even in 1947, and the Royal Navy is not the same as a commercial liner. But then, feeling the need for exercise after several weeks on a boat, the 93-year-old Holmes, using two canes *and* carrying his own luggage, walks over to Shinjuku to catch a train to Kobe. That's a good five miles as the crow flies, assuming Holmes is somewhere near Shinagawa, and takes no account of the winding roads and still flattened areas between.

But why is he walking to Shinjuku in the first place? The trains to Kobe, then as now, follow the Tokaido route from Tokyo station and Shinagawa. And since that passes through Yokohama, why not just get off the boat there? Unless Cullin knows something about trains in '47 that I don't, the route makes no sense. He has a page worth of acknowledgements to a large number of Japanese names, so maybe he does, but still...

Also I wonder if a Japanese man who learned his English in Oxford just after the first war would naturally ask someone "Are you OK?". Too much influence from Occupation Yanks? Is that why he comes to the station to meet his distinguished guest in shorts and tennis shoes? The war, I tell you, was the end of Japanese society as we know it.

And what am I to make of Holmes in disguise being 'an imminently forgettable soul'? That people seeing him will shortly forget him? Or does he in fact mean 'eminently'? (He does. So why didn't he say it?)