Thursday, January 31, 2008


And the light is now bright. Two pocket-size books today:

105. 多和田葉子『旅をする裸の眼』(講談社文庫)
106. 桐野夏生『白蛇教異端尋問』(文春文庫)

105 has the end-of-the-volume essay by Shigemi Nakagawa who was my fellow presenter at the Tawada conference in 2004 at the U of Kentucky, organized by Doug Slaymaker.

I am also asked to contribute to a new collection of essays on Tawada, but so far can't come up with any new idea... Got to make a decision soon.

Then in the evening when my mind was going astray:

107. ヘルマン・ヘッセ『知と愛』(高橋健二訳、新潮文庫)

Why is this? Well, there is a series of associations, but too detailed and uninteresting to mention here. Hesse was one of my first authors anyway, and this is the first book of his in probably thirty years! This time I was only intrigued by its original title: Narziss und Goldmund. Golden Mouth! What was it about, I could barely recall. Thus, the purchase made.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

January Ending

Boy o boy o boy. January has run its course! Not much accomplished. Some more work to be done.

94. D.H. Lawrence, Complete Poems (Penguin)
95. H.D., Hermetic Definition (New Directions)
96. Paul Alfred Barton, Rap, Rhyme and Rhythm (1st Books)
97. Frank Hoffmann, Rythm & Blues, Rap, and Hip-hop (Checkmark Books)
98. Onwuchekwa Jemie, ed., Yo'Mama! (Temple UP)
99. Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping (Picador)
100. Nelson George, Hiphop America (Penguin)
101. 桜庭一樹『砂糖菓子の弾丸は撃ちぬけない』(富士見書房)

Of them 99 is my third copy, with my first two missing. 94, come to think of it, is my second copy and I gave away the first about 25 years ago. 101, my son has it with the tres charmante author's personalized autograph. This will be my actual reading copy!

Kanda is the district where you can't avoid dropping in at bookstores, and then you easily end up by buying some while giving up your coffee and dinner, often. It happens again and again. It's a pattern I can't kick.

102. Zadie Smith ed., The Book of Other People (Penguin)
103. エアハルト・ベーレンツ『5分で楽しむ数学50話』(岩波書店)
104. ガブリエル・ウォーカー『大気の波』(早川書房)

That's it for Janus's month.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today's catch

86. Lisa Nakamura, Digitizing Space (U of Minnesota P)
87. Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes (Routledge)
88. August Wilson, Jitney (TCG)
89. Forman and Neil, eds., That's the Joint (Routledge)
90. 桜庭一樹『桜庭一樹読書日記』(東京創元社)

My, my. Sakuraba reads day in day out, maybe 100 times more books than I do each year!

Then at night in Shinjuku:

91. フリオ・リャマサーレス『黄色い雨』(木村栄一訳、ヴィレッジブックス)
92. マリオ・バルガス=リョサ『楽園への道』(田村さと子訳、河出書房新社)
93. フリオ・コルタサル『愛しのグレンダ』(野谷文昭訳、岩波書店)

All needed for an immediate action.

Monday, January 28, 2008

This empire of signs in which we live

For the first time in years I bought a new book by Takatsugu Sasaki, who was an influential Lacanian critic in the 1970s. Thus:

85. 佐々木孝次『文字と見かけの国』(太陽出版)

Discussing "Japan" in Barthes and Lacan... sounds like good old days...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

John Carey again

Another anthology by John Carey plus some others arrived:

81. John Carey ed., The Faber Books of Utopias (FF)
82. J.M. Coetzee, Stranger Shores (Penguin)
83. Stephen Morton, Salman Rushdie (Palgrave)
84. 千住博『美術の核心』(文春新書)

Suffering from a bad toothache...

John Carey is somebody who can really write; if I ever write a who can really write; if I ever write a piece of criticism write; if I ever write a piece of criticism in English, his is the style I want to emulate. Nothing flamboyant, but very substantial.

At an exhibition

On Sunday-today (my way of putting it) I went to Setagaya Art Museum to see "Palau: Two lives." It's about the writer Nakajima Atsushi and the artist Hijikata Hisakatsu. A great exhibition. In my book list I am not including magazines or what they call "mook" in Japan. But hereafter, I am including exhibition catalogues. There is no reason not to. So.

78. 『パラオーーふたつの人生 鬼才・中島敦と日本のゴーギャン・土方久功』(世田谷美術館)
79. 中島敦『弟子 自筆原稿覆刻』(県立神奈川近代文学館)
80. 『Muttoniムットーニのからくり書物』(世田谷文学館)

All of them are so NICE. I bought 79 with the hope of learning Nakajima's beautiful handwriting. Can't quite believe he died at the age of thirty. Maturity shows in one's handwriting.

80, too, was a nice surprise. This guy makes multimedia kamishibai (picture stories) in his own peculiar imagination. Lovely.

I took a nice 25-minute walk from Chitose-Funabashi and on my way ran into my friend Kamioka Nobuo. I've been running into everybody everywhere these days. Very strange. But it makes life all the more enjoyable!

Who am I?

It is baffling to see my name embedded in an utterly unreadable language; in this case, Vietnamese. Here it goes, from Saigon Broadcasting Television Network:

Ong Keijiro Suga, giáo sư đại học 48 tuổi, đến tham dự cùng với vợ và người con trai 9 tuổi, nói rằng, ông chưa bao giờ được chứng kiến một nhóm vũ công chủ trương đa dạng văn hóa và chủng tộc giống như đội tuyển túc cầu của Pháp trong giải World Cup, vì thế ông dã tận hưởng tât cả tâm hồn của buổi biểu diễn này. Trong cuộc họp báo sau buổi biểu diễn, bà Christine Coudun, vũ sư sinh sống tại vùng ngoại ô Paris, nơi có rất nhiều những người biểu diễn breakdance trên các đưòng phố, giải thích với các phóng viên Reuters rằng, bà nghĩ ra lối kết hợp tân cổ sau khi quan sát các thể loại nhảy múa của các dân tộc. Bà nói rằng chắc chắn mọi người sẽ ngạc nhiên khi thấy những vũ công cổ điển nhảy trong tiếng nhạc thời trang, và những vũ công của thời nay nhảy múa trong tiếng nhạc cổ điển; vì thế bà nghĩ sự kết hợp này có thể khiến cho khán giả cảm thấy hứng khởi hơn.

Could somebody please tell me what it says? Well, I have a rough idea. It probably tells about the French dance company Black Blanc Beur. When they performed in Tokyo, during the intermission, I was interviewed by Reuters. It was broadcast all over the world, with my appearing on video! 48 refers to my age then (back in 2006, good grief).

I looked around but couldn't find any free translation site. I am intrigued... but don't have time to learn Vietnamese... much as I love pho!

Friday, January 25, 2008


A colleague sent me his new book, a friend sent me her new book. Both look mighty interesting. Then a book I ordered a couple of months ago arrived, finally.

74. 菊池良生『ハプスブルク帝国の情報メディア革命』(集英社新書)
75. 田口ランディ『キュア』(朝日新聞社)
76. Robert Fine, Cosmopolitanism (Routledge)

All set for the weekend!

One addition after the faculty meeting:

77. John Carey, ed., The Faber Book of Science (Faber & Faber)

A great anthology.

French Audio Books and Such

Going through the Tokyo station area on my way to Ginza I dropped in at Maruzen and ran into some intrigueing audio books in French; I got them sold immediately, bought by me. So.

67. Marc Lachièze-Rey, Cosmologie (De Vive Voix)
68. Claude Jaupart, Volcans (De Vive Voix)
69. Jean-Louis Biget, La grande peste noire (De Vive Voix)
70. Jean Giono, L'homme qui plantait des arbres (Folio Cadet)

70 I am considering using as a text for the second-year French this year.

Happy listening, surtout.

And then at night a local bookshop:

71. ウラジーミル・ナボコフ『ロリータ』(若島正訳、新潮文庫)
72. 水木しげる『ほんまにオレはアホやろか』(新潮文庫)
73. 伊藤章治『ジャガイモの世界史』(中公新書)

71, a masterful translation by Wakashima, is the one I already have and this is a second copy. The first I left at my office, I guess, and I had to take a look at it. 72 has a great title that sounds like me. 73 is an interesting subject to be pursued anytime.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

La primera nieve

No, this may not be the first, but the first visibly and ostensively snow-white cityscape of the season. Here in Tokyo we get such whiteness only two or three times a winter. Under the snowflakes falling from the gray, strangely luminous sky, I went to l'Institut franco-japonais to discuss some plans. The brasserie there offers a nice menu for lunch.

Then on my way back, I met consecutively a couple of friends, who both work in the's so rare, such coincidences.

At Omeisha, another major French bookshop in Tokyo, I bought the following:

63. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (L'Association)
64. Etienne Wolff, Les mots latins du français (Belin)
65. Irène Nouailhac, Le pluriel de bric-à-brac (Point)
66. Rémi Bertrand, Un bouquin n'est pas un livre (Point)

My sudden rage for the language's insane vocabulary, I guess.

Omeisha is good because it is much more oriented toward general readers, targetted especially for the Francophone population in Tokyo. This is the most densely Francophone area around; you hear French children screaming and their mothers chattering. On the other hand, France Tosho in Shinjuku is mostly patronized by the academics.

I already have Persepolis's Portuguese translation that I bought in Lisbon in 2004. They are now showing the film. I hope I can go check it out... but first things first. Winter continues.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What's New

Some arrivals:

59. J.D.Salinger, For Esme--With Love and Squalor (Penguin)
60. 佐々木喜善『遠野のザシキワラシとオシラサマ』(中公文庫)
61. 針山孝彦『生き物たちの情報戦略』(化学同人)
62. 伊藤弥住子『NYヒップホップ・ドリーム』(シンコー・ミュージック)

59 of course is the British title for the famous collection Nine Stories. I have more than three copies of them SOMEWHERE, but can't find them at hand. I am trying a detailed analysis of the collection in relation to a reading of Le Clézio's short pieces.

60 I bought because of Sakuraba Kazuki's end-of-the-volume essay. The book itself looks interesting enough.

A cold evening but not cold enough to think of the snow-balled earth!

First French Books of the Year

Going through Shinjuku this afternoon I couldn't resist the temptation of dropping in at France Tosho (La librairie française). I don't want to buy any more books, as I said, but my stupidity forced me to buy some more.

I have been buying books at this shop for, what, 29 years now. I am pretty sure I once was one of the most-spending individual customers (outside of professionals such as French lit profs) but I haven't been treated particularly well. Anonymity never fails.

Here is a list of what I bought there today:

50. Philippe Sollers, Un vrai roman: Mémoires (Plon)
51. Guillaume Apollinaire, Poèmes à Lou (Poésie/Gallimard)
52. Guillaume Apollinaire, Le Guetteur mélancolique (Poésie/Gallimard)
53. Antonin Artaud, Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu (Poésie/Gallimard)
54. Léon-Paul Fargue, Poésies (Poésie/Gallimard)

Then I went to our Surugadai Campus for a couple of meetings, and after that at a second hand bookshop:

55. Clarence Major, ed., Black Slang (Routledge & Kegan Paul)
56. Christopher Horrocks, Baudrillard and the Millenniun (Icon Books/Totem Books)

And then finally at Sanseido:

57. William Irvine, On Desire (Oxford UP)
58. Nouvet et al. eds., Minima Memoria: In the Wake of Jean-François Lyotard (Stanford)

There are so many things I want to do simultaneously I remain motionless... But these days I am getting VERY serious about on whom to write before I leave this world... Apollinaire, certainly. Lyotard, definitely. Artaud, if I could. Sollers, if just for fun.

Happy reading.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Avalanche continues

After our friday faculty meeting I found a new package happily sitting and waiting for me in the office. Hello puppy, and in it were:

46. Rainer Maria Rilke, New Poems (Northwestern UP)
47. J.M.Coetzee, Inner Workings (Viking)
48. Vikas Swarup, Q & A, (Black Swan)

All of them look so intriguing but alas, I don't foresee a free time for some time to come. Tant pis! 47 is prefaced by Derek Attridge. I'll probably read that part on the train home.

Then in the evening at the book launching I received a copy of the book designer Shun'ichi Mamura's first collection of haikus.

49. 間村俊一『鶴の鬱』(角川書店)

This, I tell you, is a masterpiece! It's so exhilarating... lovely, funny, and striking.

From London

Today received a nice edited volume:

45. Anim-Addo & Scafe, eds., I am Black/White/Yellow: An Introduction to the Black Body in Europe (Mango Publishing)

One of my former students and friends, Midori Saito, now at London's Goldsmiths, kindly sent me a copy. She contributed to it her paper "Gendered Negritude, Women's Representation and the Novels of Claude McKay and Jean Rhys." Sounds so interesting.

Thank you Midori and keep up your good work toward a doctorate!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In the Garden of Cherry Blossoms

Some books I picked up this morning:

38. 桜庭一樹『赤朽葉家の伝説』(東京創元社)
39. 桜庭一樹『私の男』(文藝春秋)
40. 桜庭一樹『少女には向かない職業』(創元推理文庫)
41. 山川偉也『哲学者ディオゲネス』(講談社学術文庫)
42. 湯川秀樹『目に見えないもの』(講談社学術文庫)
43. 田所清克・伊藤奈希砂『ブラジルポルトガル語手紙の書き方』(国際語学社)
44. 山田善郎(監修)『中級スペイン語文法』(白水社)

I purchased some books by Sakuraba in preparation for an upcoming job and only then I learned of her winning the Naoki Prize last evening. Congratulations to Kazuki Sakuraba whom I know is a very fine writer and an attentive, voracious, sophisticated reader!

As for Mieko Kawakami, the singer-cum-novelist-poet who just won the Akutagawa Prize, I've mostly been paying attention to her as an exciting singer (whose CDs I've been listening to for the last several months). She's got a great voice and a very dramatic way of rendering. I'd love to see her perform one day.

This time the couple of recipients (the Akutagawa/Naoki) is the best in recent years, it seems. Not that I pay much attention to literary prizes in general. But both of them are destined to become strong, fresh voices in this stagnant island country of repetitive desolation. Bon creative voyage to them.

Other books I bought on impulse--my bad. But it tells about the area toward which my desire is now working its way. It betrays a lot. Shame, shame, shame.

Happy reading, after first giving my finals!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Give me Jamaica and I'll give you this...

British history is so full of crazy instances that I'm stunned. Here is a passage from Niall Ferguson's Empire:

In much the same way, it was to settle a debt of L 16,000 to one of his supporters -- William Penn, the admiral who had captured Jamaica -- that Charles II granted Penn's son ownership of what became Pennsylvania. Overnight, this made William Penn junior the largest individual landowner in British history, with an estate well over the size of Ireland. (67)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Of Forests and Leaves

Here are two more books, both in Japanese:

35. 田島謙三、神田リエ『森と人間』(朝日新聞社)
36. ホイットマン『おれにはアメリカの歌声が聴こえる』(飯野友幸訳、光文社古典新訳文庫)

36 is a translation of selected pieces from Whitman's immortal Leaves of Grass. Splendidly translated by Tomoyuki Iino, whom I recently met and found out to be a neighbor! It's a bilingual edition, very aptly. Whitman's greatness, comparable only to Wordsworth and Baudelaire, and infinitely much broader than each of them, surfaces again from these simple-looking pages.I cherish this little book!

Then came in another:
37. 福島富士夫『アフリカ文学読みはじめ』(スリーエーネットワーク)

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Two more books I received as gifts from friends; I can't thank them enough.

33. 渡辺利雄『講義・アメリカ文学史 第1巻』(研究社)
34. 吉増剛造『わが悪魔祓い』(青土社)

The latter is one of the best books of poetry by the maître Gozo first published in 1974. The book itself is so GOrGeOus! Splendidly designed by Mitsuo Kano, it is emanating PRESENCE, at the present tense, after all these years. The beauty of Japanese books should be known to the world and I have often wondered if there are some serious collectors out there even if they can't read a word of Japanese. I, personally, wouldn't mind seeing this book auctioned at Christie's.

The title, Waga akuma barai (My own exorcism), is obviously inspired by Le Clézio's Häi, translated in Japanese as exorcism. Gozo somewhere avowed that he considered Le Clézio as his contemporary "rival" , by which I think he meant he shared a certain goal to be reached in their vision quest of the world.

This book is so nice to read, too. It reads, to me, like an extraordinary cartoon, where a rapidly alternating landscapes and visions appear one after the other. Hallucinating succession. Or, "illuminations" in the rimbardien sense?

A discursive epidemic, EXTRA-VAGARI

A couple of nice expressions I picked up from Steven Connor within the following passage:

The 'work of Joyce' is more than just a particular collection of texts; it is a generative code, a discursive epidemic, a chain letter. To write about Joyce's work, to add another act of reading to this immense unfolding, is a humbling, exhilarating, intimidating thing. Inevitably, any such reading will be given, conscisouly or unconsciously, to reflect on the nature and implications of the extravagance (literally extra-vagari, to wander outside), at once amicable and appetitive, of Joycean reading and writing, a writing that seems so strangely and stubbornly to resist reduction to an œuvre, or mere 'body of work.'

(James Joyce, 2)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some from Powell's

Some used books arrived from Powell's:

30. Egmond and Mason, The Mammoth and the Mouse (Johns Hopkins UP)
31. Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character (Delta)
32. Houston Baker, Jr., Long Black Song (U of Virginia P)

Red herrings?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Books given

I occasionally do receive books as a gift, either from their authors, friends, editors, students, or simply acquintances. Considering that these books, too, pass thorough my office, I will also list them. I am not making any marks or anything to designate these books I didn't buy myself. But here is the first gift I received this year; grazie mille for its translator Koji Toko!

29. DBCピエール『ヴァーノン・ゴッド・リトル』(ヴィレッジブックス)

Books arriving

My pre-Christmas frenzy is now resurfacing as a seris of packets arriving in my office frm overseas; books only. I bought a couple of boxes too many, it seems. Still I need them incorporated in my list for the sake of honesty.

I am already puzzled why in the world I bought this and that, knowing very well I would never have time to read them all. This will be a historical testimony of my temporary insanity.

10. Zoë Wicomb, Playing in the Light (The New Press)
11. Zoë Wicomb, You can't get lost in Cape Town (The Feminist Press)
12. Zoë Wicomb, David's Story (The Feminist Press)
13. Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown (Random House)
14. Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh (Vintage)
15. Michael Reder, ed.,Coversations with Salman Rushdie (U of Mississippi Press)
16. August Wilson, Two Trains Running (TCG)
17. August Wilson, Seven Guitars (TCG)
18. Edouard Glissant, Monsieur Toussaint (Rienner)
19. Victor Duran ed., An Anthology of Belizean Literature (UPA)
20. Dino Buzzati, The Tartar Steppe (Canongate)
21. Dino Buzzati, The Bear's Famous Invasion of Sicily (HarperTrophy)
22. Jacques Derrida, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness (Routledge)
23. Alisdair Gray, Lanark (Canongate)
24. Augenbraum and Stavans, eds., Lengua Fresca (Mariner Books)
25. Ari Marcopoulos, Even the President of the United States Sometimes Has Got to Stand Naked (JRP Ringier)
26. Houston Baker, Jr., Rap and the Academy (U of Chicago Press)
27. Houston Baker, Jr., Singers of Daybreak Howard UP)
28. ゲーリー・スナイダー『惑星の未来を想像する者たちへ』(山と渓谷社)

A second copy occacionally happens, and I do sometimes buy translations of a work, but there will be no special mention of these instances.

Happy reding.

Book Buying

Two books I bought today after giving a course at Komaba:

8. プレマック夫妻『心の発生と進化』(鈴木光太郎訳、新曜社)
9. 吉本光宏『イメージの帝国、映画の終り』(以文社)

After the class I met up with a couple of friends to discuss Tout-monde by Edouard Glissant. Shin Kudo wrote a paper (possibly a chapter for his dissertation) on this difficultissimo work and we revised his translation of several passages. Very interesting.

The grand Edou turns 80 this year; my obligation is to finish my translation of Le quatrième siècle by September... A difficult task. Will try anyway...

Monday, January 07, 2008

At the Kanda Quartier Latin

Those of you who know Tokyo may have heard that the Ochanomizu-Jinbocho area is sometimes called the Kanda Quartier Latin, because of the high concentration of colleges and clam schools. This is also one of the largest, if not THE largest, bookshop / used-book dealer area in the world; just think of the British museum and the Harvard Library come together, each isle selling a range of books.

Our headquarter is located in the area and each time we have some meeting I go there; on the average once a week or so. So I went there this afternoon to spend three very FRUITFUL hours, for the first time this year. Fruitful, I mean it. My old habit of not concentrating on what is in front of me helped me a lot. (But let me tell you I did my share of participation in the discussion!)

After the meeting was dismissed I went to a full-scale bookstore (Sanseido, namely). Here is the list of my acquisition today:

5. Claire Tomalin, ed., Poems of Thomas Hardy (Penguin Books)
6. Niall Ferguson, Empire (Penguin Books)
7. Philip Ball, The Elements: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford)

Happy reading.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Books and such

Admittedly, nobody asked me to reveal my secret consummerism; but I will list every single book I buy this year on this blog. So be it.

Today I went to the Shin Maru-biru near the Tokyo station (a brand new shopping complex) to have a lunch with my friends who are just about to go off to Palau; afterwards I went to Maruzen by myself and couldn't come out empty-handed. I am too soft-minded. So here is my first list of the year:

1. Federico García Lorca, Selected Poems (Penguin Classics)
2. Tennessee Williams, In the Winter of Cities (New Directions)
3. Nick Hornby, The Complete Polysyllabic Spree (Penguin Books)
4. Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable, read by Sean Barrett (Naxos Audio Books)

For convenience's sake, I will include an audio book in the same category as a printed book. No discussions on orality, please.

Nick Horby's is quite fun and much to the point, in this case. It's his book-buying and reading diary; very honest and funny. Professional writers may have different opinions, but all I wish for the moment is to write in English as he does and to write in French as Philippe Delerme does. They are both simple, funny, slick, often clever, sympa, and mostly relevant to our daily states of mind.

Hornby is especially RIGHT in rightly distinguishing between the books he bought and read. In my case, they usually NEVER coincide.

Happy buying books, then, and happy reading.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ralentir, plus lentement...

Happy new year 2008. My new year's resolution this year is to be slow in writing! and of course reading!

Here is what Valéry wrote in one of his letters:

Pierre Louÿs, par exemple, ne pouvait souffrir de poursuivre son travail sur une page qui fût le moindrement raturée; quand il avait corrigé son texte, il s'arrêtait, prenait un nouveau feuillet, et recopiait au net, de sa splendide écriture, le passage dûment réformé. Ces reprises étaient fréquantes, car, pour un écrivain si scrupuleux, les occasions de se sentir fautif étaient innombrables. Il y aurait une belle étude à faire sur le scrupule en littérature.

Ah! ce que j'ai toujours connu, and what I have always forgotten!