The Sound of One Hand
After World War I, it was Paris. American G.I.s found themselves in a world where nothing was familiar but everything was enticing and they went for it, indulged in it, grew and flourished and discovered whole new selves.
After World War II, the place was Tokyo. Two buddies, “…heartsore, war-weary, bomb-scarred,” and their Japanese girlfriends “…as they really are for once, not geishas with hearts of gold” (all quotes from the New York Times Sunday Book Review), struggle for meaning, acceptance..
Renatti, from the streets of New York, has no one looking for him but a lot riding on how the drive of Endicott’s mother might knock his new life off its track as well. And mother has brought along help, the blond and boisterous and very American Barbara.
The story moves from a small village an hour’s train ride away to the bars of the Ginza, from old customs that feel more comfortable than those they left behind to an awareness that Japan is not standing still either but driving toward a future that might become more like the past they left behind than what they thought they found here.
They had found – or made -- a way of life amid people who had been ready to kill them and now embraced them. In one of those curious turns of history, each side wanted to become the other.
In the hidden corners of Nishi-Ginza and the timeless villages that clustered in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, cultures crossed and mixed. Before sake and sushi and karate and karaoke and ramen and even sumo made their way to the shopping malls of America, a wholly alien way of life was capturing young men who were wholly unprepared for the experience.
This is where it started.
All contents copyright by Larry Savadove