Bridges in Tokyo
AUDREY HEPBURN'S NECK by Alan Brown, Sceptre pounds 9.99
Sunday 31 March 1996
As sparse as a Japanese woodblock print yet intricate as a piece of Mitsubishi gadgetry, this is a tale of bridge-building and reconciliation. Toshi, at 23, is a man whose life is riven between what he is and what he would like to be. He is Japanese, yet yearns to be American. He fantasises about having a girlfriend like Audrey Hepburn, but slips into a disastrous relationship with a psychotic English teacher. He works as a Manga cartoonist, but wants to draw original designs. He lives in Tokyo, yet is constantly drawn back to Hokkaido, the remote island where he was born. His present is always at odds with his past.
The disjunction of Toshi's life is echoed throughout the world he knows - in the separation of his parents when he was a child; in the earthquakes that habitually shudder through his native land; in the contrast of furious, cosmopolitan Tokyo and remote, snow-covered Hokkaido. Everywhere he is faced with opposition and divorcement.
As Toshi's present intertwines with snapshots of his past, however, events carry him towards reconciliation and unity. As a child, he slept between his divided parents; as an adult he comes to span the divisions in his own life. He starts drawing the pictures he wants to; he falls in love with Hepburnesque American musician Lucy; he learns the truth of his background. Where Audrey Hepburn's neck once symbolised unattainable fantasy, it now represents the bridging of Toshi's divergent self.
The prose is simple and evocative, perceptive and poignant. Metaphors are occasionally pushed too hard - Toshi's childhood home is bulldozed while his mother explains that his past is not as he thinks - but that does nothing to upset the inherent poise and delicacy of the whole. Hope from despair, peace from confusion, wholeness from disunity - if only life were really as good as that.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 5 Baby rescued 1km out to sea after parents forgot about her
Bad luck, One Direction: Paul McCartney doubts success of The Beatles will ever be matched again
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
The Crystal Maze: Richard O’Brien confirmed to return as more details revealed about show's rebooted format
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
Guillaume Tell's gang-rape scene caused uproar at the Royal Opera House – but the portrayal of extreme sex and violence on stage is nothing new
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture