mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Gratitude, and reading Thursday

Oh the grateful warmth of a space heater in a chilly house. I won't even say 'on a chilly evening' because it wasn't all that much- certainly less than midday when I went out in fall jacket and wool scarf, and at once wished I'd either worn a fleecy as well, or just caved and put on my winter coat. And gloves. And rain gaiters, because the misty rain did succeed in getting me wet by the time I reached work.

But now I have heat without having to limp downstairs and turn on the furnace and then feel too hot in the night and not want to go down and turn it off again. I would never live in a smart house where I, or any random hacker, could regulate things from my phone. But I could really use one of those Japanese all-in-one units that heats, cools (or overcools), and dehumidifies the bedroom at need. Maybe if I win a lottery...

I'm reading Winter's Tale still, and only just realized why it has a hundred year break in the middle, and also that Halprin was writing about the year 1999 in the early 80s, but since it isn't the *real* New York it doesn't matter that the zeitgeist is all wrong. Oh, and did anyone call this a fantasy when it first came out or did they figure that since it was by a guy it must be Seeryus Littrachure?

Am also reading Once Upon a River, recommended by my Rivers of London FB group. Went very well with last Saturday's rain and cold, but I'm tired of rain and cold (after only two days of same) and reading has lagged. I am, in fact, unwilling to read on in either book, or to read anything else, which is why I finished nothing last week except a volume of double crostics. The draining sinuses and strangling cough don't promote enthusiasm either, but those aren't stopping for another two months so I'd better find enthusiasm somewhere.

Case in point: my travelling reading is a volume of Nagai Kafu's short stories, including the famous The River Sumida in the Seidensticker translation. I read that before I'd been to Japan and thought it well enough. After living in Tokyo, or to be more precise, after having been to the areas he talks about- Asakusa, San'ya, Hashiba- I'm enchanted by his deep sense of place. But then some article tells me that Kafu deplored the changes taking place in Tokyo at the time- the time being 1910, eighty years before my sojourn there, before the earthquake and the firebombing even. Makes one wonder what he actually liked: the flat low houses of the Edo period jumbled together on narrow lanes? Meiji photographs always make the town look unspeakably dreary, not to say muddy and/or dusty as per season. So at once I lose interest in Kafu's world.

Rightly so, perhaps. Here's an article about him, including good ol' Seidensticker echoing the sentiment that all the fun parts of Tokyo have disappeared, though Seidensticker's nostalgia is for the city that Kafu hated. Those two, going by Hoffman's account of Kafu and Seidensticker's accounts of himself, had an awful lot in common, with emphasis on the 'awful'.

(Yes, I know. What people are *like* has no connection whatever with what they can actually *do*. Except that with writers, unlike musicians and artists, yer basic small-souled meanness will show through, whatever they do.)
Tags: japan, place, reading_19, rl_19

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