Can't believe this was picked as one of the best of 2008. This is nothing but the self indulgent rantings of a self confessed scumbag. This book is the ultimate proof (as if any more was needed) that Americans just can't help blabbing to the world about things that really, really shouldn't be shared. If this guy had an ounce of class he'd have stayed extremely quiet about his years as a coke fiend and just thanked God he'd come out the other side more or less intact. And by the way it's not even particularly spectacular or interesting as an addiction story! Vastly inferior to Jimmy Lerner's "You Got Nothing Coming".
I'm giving this 4 stars. In terms of narrative it's a bit flawed (who's perfect?) but for me there is a lot of interest in the main character and his experience of return to Taiwan as a "foreigner". Some nice observations on Taiwan, and also on Asian-American identity. One thing that annoyed me a little was one of the characters' tirades against a white American who has "gone native" in Taiwan, since I got a bit of an impression that this reflects the author's own feelings. So, what, white Americans are not meant to go to Asia? Or if they do they should remain superficial tourists? Why is it possible for an Asian migrant to the US to have an authentic hyphenated identity but impossible for a white expatriate in Asia to establish the same thing? Sure, these are somewhat different propositions, but come on, Francie, cultural belonging is flexible and negotiable, isn't it? For me this issue is seen through a bit of a crude orientalist lens. That gripe apart, I found lots to like here.
Murakami seems to divide critics somewhat but for me this is a great novel. I've read it a number of times, and got the audiobook mostly because I wanted to hear Rupert Degas reading it. I recognised his voice from the Raymond Chandler series and thought that his noir style read would really suit Murakami. And it did, in spades. A brilliant listen
This was really compulsive listening. A brilliant performance by the voice actor and proof that Mosley's still got it. Easy Rawlins fits surprisingly well into the 60s, and Mosley's critique of that era's racial politics and popular culture is pretty sharp. Highly recommended.
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