No-No Boy a novel by John Okada

I like this book. I discovered No-No Boy by John Okada at Naropa SWP a few years ago and finally got to read it. I am so glad I did.

While John Okada’s novel could be read for its historical perspective on the internment of Japanese-Americans and their experiences post-WWII, it was not written as a historical novel. No-No Boy was published just over a decade after the end of the war and is a vibrant, fresh exploration of the complex issues of identity (ethnic/cultural/racial/national).

As Frank Chin writes in the afterword, Okada shows the “identity crisis” to be both totally real and absolutely fake. Ichiro, the main character of the novel, is caught in the cracks between allowed, accepted, and foreclosed identities. Ichiro regrets his decision to refuse military service. Initially, he envies the other young men who decided to join the military, because they are American and have proven it through their service to the government.

Ichiro’s friend, Kenji, has returned an American hero, a disabled Veteran. Even the loss of a leg does […]

Finding Religion

Doris and I went to the Guggenheim Museum to see the Kandinksky exhibit before it closed. I used the free headsets to listen to a guided tour of the Guggenheim. The narration provided context for the exhibition, as well as insight into specific paintings. Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s journey came up more than once in talking about the artist and his life’s work.

I appreciate Joseph Campbell’s theories, but am sometimes uncomfortable when his ideas are applied by others. I’m not sure what it is but when I listen to Campbell speak (on dvd) I am right there with him. But whenever I hear him quoted by other people, I balk. Although Campbell’s ideas were profound, he was very specific about what he was saying. When extrapolating his ideas there is the danger of implying more than what he intended and more than what is reasonable.

For example, the suggestion seems to be with artists, and especially abstract artists, that there was a unifying theme to their lives. The implication is that the early work of […]

Art in South Beach

During my brief stay in lovely Miami, I went looking for a bookstore. Yes, I’m just the type of person who goes to South Beach and spends his time in a bookstore, drinking expresso and reading rather than baking under the sun. And although googlemaps promised Kafka’s Kafe, when I got there it was a cybercafe without tables or couches.

I walked up a few blocks to Books & Books. This is a fine bookstore, with a good sized collection of eclectic books including a room of oversized art and photography books. And there is a cafe with tables in the open air of Lincoln Road Mall.

Lots of cafes and restaurants have tables outside on Lincoln Road Mall. In fact, the only tables or chairs available on the mall appear to be owned by some commercial establishment. I didn’t recognize this on my first visit but later when I returned with Doris to try a banana split from Ghirardelli we had a difficult time finding a place to sit. We could have just gotten […]