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Fire Watch
Connie Willis
Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a shoestring
China Williams, Greg Bloom, Celeste Brash, Andrew Burke
Fodor's See It Thailand 2008
Fodor's Travel Publications Inc.
Kitchen - Banana Yoshimoto, Megan Backus I've been hearing so much about this book--the author has won a whole bunch of awards, it appears on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list (which, while admittedly flawed, I have found to contain a lot of exceptional works)--but I was pretty underwhelmed. I mean, it's a fine book. There's nothing really wrong with the story. It's cute, and I enjoyed it for what it was: a brief, touching story of 3 people who are brought together by their individual losses and grief. The characters were likeable, if a bit bland, and the storyline is fairly interesting. Still, it just didn't do much for me.

This book also pushes one of my major LGBTQ-ally buttons. Eriko, a transsexual woman, is repeatedly referred to in the text as "a man". Not in an adversaries-calling-her-names way either. These are her son and closest friend referring to her. An example:

"There aren't many men who will open a car door for a woman. I think it's really great."
"Eriko raised me that way," he said, laughing. "If I didn't open the door for her, she'd get mad and refuse to get in the car."
"Even though she was a man!" I said, laughing.
"Right, right, even though she was a man."

Um, no. It's made clear in the book that she's not a drag queen, she's not a transvestite. She is not a man. It pissed me off every time I read that.

I also found the dialogue a little wooden, as in the above example. I think the translation left something to be desired.

The edition I read also included a short story, "Moonlight Shadow", which was just as meh if not moreso. Overall, disappointing.