Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey
Wrong About Japan
(Vintage International, New York: 2006)
First published by Knopf in 2005.
READ: March 2006
I picked this up one day from a secondhand book shop because it had an intriguing premise: Peter Carey, famous Australian author (among other things, he is the author of the novel True History of the Kelly Gang, which I really want to read someday) who is based in New York City, takes his 12-year-old son to Tokyo for a week after his son declares that he is going to live in Japan someday. Charlie is interested in Japanese manga and anime, not kabuki theatre and temple architecture. So he gets his dad to promise that they will visit the Real Japan, which they do. They meet a young Japanese boy who speaks English (I guess in Tokyo, anything is possible) who shows them some way-off-the-beaten-track aspects of Japanese life. There is a bit of Japanese theatre, despite Charlie's loud protests, and if I recall correctly, Carey gets away at one point by himself to visit one temple or something like that. But mostly there is anime and yakuza and comics and Mr. Donut. It's a short book, and you don't have to be a Japanophile to appreciate it. It's a fun read with a number of laugh-out-loud moments.