Sun. Feb 23rd, 2020

Read 4 Fun

Read the short reviews, read the book, comment

Samurai Links

3 min read

I like the discovery possibilities that come with Amazon Samples. Most times they are good value and since I am in one of my positive moods (inspired by this sample) I won’t waste my time (or yours) with going into the negatives. Except for one and it is my fault, not Amazon’s. In a fairly short period of time, my unread samples list rivals my currently-I-am-really-going-to-read-this-next list. To attack this problem, I dedicate my Kindle Paperwhite to (mostly) Sample reading and I’ll leave the lengthy stuff to the Kindle apps on my laptop. Facing strident phone calls from my friendly Yamaha dealer to report for periodic service with my bike, I packed my book reader along with the intent to get through several samples during a lengthy bike service procedure.

Daughter of the Samurai by Etsu Sugimoto made my enforced confinement at the dealership too short. I was amazed that I finished the sample and still had time to return and review several points that provided me new information while making me smile at the skill and adroitness of the author’s expression. This was a great start to the day. I am unfamiliar with Japan, its history, its language and its culture. Anything I know about Japan comes from cursory observations provided by mass media which means that this sample provided a culture shock, although a pleasant one.

The portrayals of the context that is Japanese history are informative and may be interesting to many on their own merit. What was more interesting to me was Etsu’s telling of growing up in a household that was very tradition-bound but in which the patriarch was reform-minded. Etsu’s education was more one that a son would receive; this was the wish of her father. She had a priest-teacher who gave her two-hour lessons. During the lesson he moved only his hands and lips, there was no other body movement as he sat on a cushion and delivered the lesson. Etsu was to act the same, no movement. Once, her body swayed slightly and a knee moved. Lesson terminated. Girls, thus Etsu, were expected to control their body during sleep. Their bodies had to be curved into a modest shape described by a specific Japanese character. Boys suffered no such limitation. Etsu first ate meat at the age of eight when the vegetarian Japanese society began to change. Etsu’s father supported the change, her mother demurred but went along, her grandmother remained silent. It is these “growing-up” incidents that provided the culture shock (and entertainment) for me.

Then there is the introduction by Christopher Morley. He gave some examples of what intrigued him so much about Etsu Sugimoto’s account of growing up. Morley recommends it as a book for children saying that there can be nothing more entrancing in a collection of fairy tales than this writing of real-life experiences growing up in a traditional, but reformist, household. Morley’s introduction was so well written and inviting that I followed a link to his Wikipedia page where I found a great quote for the day. Wikipedia provides a reference for the following reported quote, one purportedly written on his deathbed to his friends:

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity. (Online Literature, ref {1} on Christopher Morley Wikipedia page).

This pleased me so much that I followed another link to Project Gutenberg which allowed me to download (for free) Where the Blue Begins by Christopher Morley, the download appearing on my Kindle app.

As far as reducing my intended reading through skillful manipulation of Amazon samples, the day did not go well.

But I had a lot of fun.


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