A traveller comes to Japan and is slowly absorbed into a complex and increasingly unnerving interplay of reality, representation, substitution, the virtual, the artificial, the counterfeit and the unreal. In form, 'Japan Dreams' is loosely modelled on 'Pillow Book' by Sei Shonagon and 'As I crossed a bridge of dreams' by Lady Sarashina, both written c. 1000 AD. The narrative moves between travelogue, meditation, exploration of ideas, discourse on various subjects, dreams, lists, and introspection. Fact and fiction become harder to separate as the story unfolds. What starts as straightforward documentary metamorphoses into chaotic self-absorption, and the reader is left examining the very same question examined by the narrator: is this real? A very personal first-person account, 'Japan Dreams' touches on numerous aspects of Japanese culture: arts and heritage, attitudes to time and space, sexuality, language, technology, media, entertainment, identity and self, values, family, city and country life, and religion. Editorial Review - Jan Dodd, author of 'Rough Guide To Japan' Mark really engages with the reader. He has the light touch of a natural story-teller and yet, at the same time, manages to introduce fairly weighty, academic subject-matter without appearing pretentious. Reading carries you along on Mark's voyage of discovery, gradually peeling back the layers of this complex, nuanced nation. Mark has a wonderful eye for character and detail. In one memorable image he describes a workman vacuuming loose pine-needles from a tree. His chance meeting with the eccentric academics makes another nicely perceived vignette. Through episodes such as these, Mark conveys a real flavour of Japan, far from the clichAcd tourist-brochure world of cherry-blossoms and geisha. I particularly responded to Mark's tendency to question everything. He is constantly analysing what he sees and learns in order to form his own opinions, not simply repeating accepted qtruthsq. He gives some very perceptive insights into the nature of qrealityq in Japan. He notes the very different attitude the Japanese have to replicas, such as the qancientq Ise shrine and the value put on the faked autograph of a sumo wrestler. Equally fascinating is his perception of the emptiness, the qnothingq that lies at the core of so much in Japan, of Shinto religion and Zen Buddhism, and of the ephemeral beauty which is central to Japanese aesthetics.Fact and fiction become harder to separate as the story unfolds.
|Publisher||:||MP - 2010|