introducing readers to writers since 1995

September 28, 2004

Cue Your Bongwater CDs to "Women Tied Up in Knots"

by Ron Hogan

amisakurai.jpgI went out to Bluestockings last week to catch a reading by Ami Sakurai, whose publisher describes her as "a writer for the Heidi Fleiss, Paris Hilton, Tracy Quan, Annabelle Chong generation of women," which is to say that she's "challenging our contemporary notions of female sexuality." Though she appeared to have ditched the "sword-wielding samurai-kogyaru" said to have accompanied her at other events during her week-long stay in New York, her kimono was much like the one in the photo above. Anyway, she read the first two pages of her novella, Innocent World, in Japanese, and then ceded the microphone to neo-geisha Hillary Raphael, who read a translation all of Ami's first chapter and a good portion of the second--taking the protagonist (also named Ami) through a recollection of the first time she had sex with her brother and the latest sex job she's taken so she can afford to keep going out to visit said brother and continue their romance.

The translation by Steven Clark has an effective deadpan quality, though this subject matter is clearly not going to be for everyone. And none of those reference points cited above quite work--well, maybe Tracy Quan, but only by way of Abel Ferrara. I'm actually thinking more along the lines of Kathy Acker without the textual experimentation... As it happens, Raphael actually has some of that experimentation in her novel, I [heart] Lord Buddha, which I'm still working my way through. But she's a huge Sakurai fan, calling Innocent World her "favorite novel in Japanese right now." And Sakurai has some interesting tastes of her own; we spoke briefly after the reading, and she mentioned a group of favorite American authors that veered from Fitzgerald to Harlan Ellison, specifically The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World.

Oh, and I promised the folks at Vertical I'd mention their new directing ordering program, which comes with a 33 percent discount and free shipping. Which is quite a bargrain for fans of Vertical's quirky J-pulp line. I'm pretty excited about the new material from Ring creator Koji Suzuki myself...

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