Land of the Lustrous Vol. 8

Title: Land of the Lustrous Vol. 8
Author: Haruko Ichikawa (translated by Althea Nibley)
Format: E-book
Price: $9.62
Condition: New
When: April 22nd, 2019
Where: Kobo
Synopsis: Phos intentionally gets captured by the Lunarians in an effort to get at the truth of what is going on between the Gems and the Lunarians, where Kongo-sensei fits into it as well as who or what he is, and the question of the fates of their stolen comrades like Antarcticite and Lapis Lazuli.
Why: The series is great, so it’s not like I’d stop reading it now.
Was I justified in buying it?: Absolutely. It just keeps getting better (and more horrifying). If you complain that all manga is the same, you’re obviously not reading this – and you should really give it a go.

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Japanese Fashion Cultures: Dress and Gender in Contemporary Japan

Title: Japanese Fashion Cultures: Dress and Gender in Contemporary Japan
Author: Masafumi Monden
Format: E-book
Price: $21.56
Condition: New
When: April 16th, 2019
Where: Bloomsbury Academic online store
Synopsis: An academic examination of contemporary Japanese fashion through the lenses of fashion magazines, music videos, and pop culture.
Why: I’m slowly making my way through the books that interest me in Bloomsbury Academic’s Dress, Body, Culture line, hamstrung slightly by how a lot of the older titles I’m interested in are only offered as e-books for academic institutions and not for consumers… and this is one that is available as an e-book for consumers. Having enjoyed The Social Life of Kimono: Japanese Fashion, Past and Present (Sheila Cliffe), I thought it made sense to try to orient myself a bit more to popular Japanese fashion (i.e. of the sort one might actually see when out and about in Japan, as opposed to high fashion).
Was I justified in buying it?: Yes, although I am skeptical of the author’s assessments of women and girls’ fashion. Whereas the author utilizes fashion magazines targeted at average young men (i.e. those of limited disposable income) to discuss young men’s fashion, he uses three music videos and a movie to try to do same to discuss lolita fashion among young women, and I don’t think these are sources of equal value/validity for what people are wearing in real life. I’m also quite frankly doubtful as to conclusions made by a man about the place and meaning of infantilized fashions, gestures, and behaviors in a female population, particularly when much of that is drawn from the music videos of idol singers, an industry not particularly known for its creative freedoms or good treatment of its laboring entertainers. I’m glad I read it, don’t get me wrong, but while I found the sections of male fashion worthwhile, I think there are likely much better sources out there for considerations of female Japanese fashion.

Freedom

Title: Freedom
Author: Margaret Atwood
Format: Paperbacy
Price: €4.20
Condition: New
When: April 10th, 2019
Where: some bookstore in Cork
Synopsis: Several pages from Atwood that haven’t appeared elsewhere that preface a huge chunk of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hag-seed.
Why: Well, it’s Atwood and I didn’t read the back closely enough to realize it was just mostly stuff I’ve already read.
Was I justified in buying it?: No – I should’ve checked the description more closely. I already own Handmaid and think it’s stupid to read a slice of it instead of just reading the entire thing. As for Hag-seed, I ALSO own that, and I didn’t like it much – so much so, I’ve never managed to finish it. So, this was a complete waste of money. In fact, this was such a waste of money, I don’t think I’ll ever touch anything else from this same line (i.e. Vintage Minis).

Subtly Worded

Title: Subtly Worded
Author: Teffi(translated by Anne Marie Jackson, Elizabeth Chandler, Robert Chandler, Clare Kitson, Irina Steinberg, and Natalia Wase)
Format: Paperback
Price: €8.00
Condition: New
When: April 10th, 2019
Where: somewhere in Cork
Synopsis: A collection of Russian writer Teffi’s essays/stories, spanning her career from well before the Revolution through to her eventual flight from the Bolsheviks and her later life in France.
Why: I enjoyed Teffi’s memoir of her flight from Russia, Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea, when I read it a couple of years back. So when I saw this marked down twice, it was an easy buy. (Teffi had written for a Bolshevik newspaper, but found herself on thin ice as she became disillusioned by the persistence of violence following the October Revolution.)
Was I justified in buying it?: Probably, although I haven’t gotten to it yet. Hope it’s a better collection than the one the New York Review of Books put out a few years ago, at least.

Daughters of Passion

Title: Daughters of Passion
Author: Julia O’Faolain
Format: Paperback
Price: €3.50
Condition: New
When: April 10th, 2019
Where: somewhere in Cork
Synopsis: Maggy’s on day 12 of a hunger strike in an English jail for some involvement with the IRA, but its not at all clear what the charge is or whether its even valid. It does seem likely that it had something to do with her childhood friends, though – either her deeply odd cousin (and fellow orphan) or her Catholic convert Anglo-Irish flatmate who thrills to heated talk with political radicals.
Why: Bit of a whim, my picking it up; I’d gone into a bookstore to poke around and take advantage of being in an English-speaking country for once.
Was I justified in buying it?: Yes, although the sticker price I think was a bit steep for the length of the material (compare with the Penguin Modern line wherein each retails for a quid) – but, then again, it did mean I discovered a new author. I liked this a sufficient amount to later buy a collection of O’Faiolain’s short stories.

The Tragic Fate of Moritz Toth

Title: The Tragic Fate of Moritz Toth
Author: Dana Todorović (translated into English by the author)
Format: E-book
Price: $8.99
Condition: New
When: April 15th, 2019
Where: Kobo
Synopsis: Moritz Toth, a former punk rock musician, winds up with a job as a prompter for the Budapest Orchestra as a reprieve from his jobless state. Meanwhile, Tobias Keller, the Moral Issues Advisor with the Office of the Great Overseer, is put on trial for interfering with a human’s free-will. How this connects is a good question, as I haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet.
Why: I like the publishers, Istros Book, enough that I’ll check what they’ve got when I’m hankering for something new to read. This happens to be the only book in their collaboration with Peter Owens World Series for the year that was Serbia, so I figured, well, why not call it a set?
Was I justified in buying it?: …maybe? I’ve stalled on it, but that was more that it required a sufficient amount of my attention at a time when I simply didn’t have the mental energy for it. I plan to get back to it.

Sea of Ink

Title: Sea of Ink
Author: Richard Weihe (translated by Jamie Bulloch)
Format: E-book
Price: $5.66
Condition: New
When: April 15th, 2019
Where: Kobo
Synopsis: A fictionalization of the life of Bada Shanren, a 17th century Chinese artist who feigned madness when the Ming dynasty collapsed in order to evade imprisonment and execution by the newly risen Qing ruler.
Why: I’ve liked a lot of what I’ve read from Peirene Press, a publisher which specializes in foreign language novellas, which means I’ll periodically go through their offerings to find something new to read.
Was I justified in buying it?: I’m about halfway through; it’s fine, if a bit… too sparse, which maybe is an odd complaint for a book that’s only about 100 pages long to begin with. But, then again, most of the other books I’ve read from Peirene have felt much more substantial and clock in around the same page count.