Copyright ©1992 by Dave Barry; Copyright (P)1992 Dove Audio, Inc.
Dave's take on Japan, the Japanese, the food, flying, feeling tall,
and much more. His memories of the 50's Sci-Fi and WWII movies alone
are worth the price of admission.
This is one of Dave's funniest.
I was listening to this recording while performing a rather delicate experiment on insect larvae. While holding a beetle in forceps, I heard a particularly funny statement, and squashed the object of my research in my laughter. Very dangerously funny!
This is Dave Barry at his best. It can be retired as an audio book: No one will every read it better than Arte Johnson.
I rarely write reviews, but I have to recommend this one. Contrary to a prior reviewer, I really liked Arte Johnson's narration. Yes, his Japanese accent may be construed to be offensive, but just relax. It's funny. Not everything has to be PC. I started the book thinking Dave Barry's humor was somewhat corny - and maybe 10% is - but mostly I find myself laughing out loud. Get this book and enjohy it. No, it's not a travel narrative, but it is a good introduction to culturally understand the Japanese.
This is one of my all time favorite Dave Barry books. I laughed my way through it in print some years ago, but I found the narration of the audio book somewhat distracting. When you end up thinking more about the voice than the story being told, that's not good. And I'm surprised to have to say it - this is NOT a travel book! I can't imagine picking up a book by Dave Barry looking for vacation advice. If that's what you want, there is a world of travel guides waiting for you out there. For a really good laugh, check out "...Does Japan" in paperback.
If you like Dave Barry, then this is the book for you. If however you were expecting to learn anything about Japan, give it a miss. The first 45 minutes are Dave Barry getting to the airport. The first 30 minutes of that is a discussion of the US auto industry.
I am struggling to finish this book in the hope that Dave makes it to Japan.
I still have 30 minutes left on this but there's nothing in those 30 minutes that will surely cause me to leave less than a 5-star review all around.
I should say that I have lived in Japan for 11 years now and so I have to admit I approached this book with some trepidation, fearing it would be a catalog of stereotypical portrayals and that I would be wincing a lot. In all honesty I was prepared to sit through a lot of the same things you can find on any "I'm teaching English in Japan for one year" blog (guilty as charged).
To be fair, stereotypes do come up a lot, but in Barry's fair hands he never lets himself get carried away -- you get a real sense that he knows these stereotypes are on one hand true, but on the other hand not really fair. And he leaves a lot of hints along the way that the reader (or listener) should also not get too carried away.
What surprised me most was how much has *not* changed in the 20+ years since Barry wrote this. Sure Japan is a hell of a lot more nuanced than you'll ever know from this book, but again Barry cops to this. What was equally surprising was how much Barry, in the three short weeks he was in Japan, "got" about Japan, fundamentally. Sure the portrayals are broad. But they were also very insightful.
Besides all of this, the book is just sooooo damn funny. I'm listening to this mostly on my commute on public transportation and it's all I can do to not burst out laughing every minute, which if you read/listen to Barry's book, you'll know is not really the thing you want to be doing as a "water buffalo" (Barry's phrase) foreigner in Japan.
Lastly, I had no idea who Arte Johnson was but he does an incredible job. Honestly, the recording will make you think it's Barry, because Johnson is on fire and so keyed in to the first person narrative. I'm sure some people will find his impersonations of Japanese speaking English borderline offensive (although in his defense it may have been written that way by Barry), but I got over that real quick and accepted in as part of Barry's humor (again because you never get the feeling that Barry is taking himself so seriously). Johnson also mispronounces a lot of Japanese words, but again that might be the way Barry wrote it. Still, these are mere quibbles.
Retired nightclub performer/computer technician, I now teach hula and ukulele to seniors, and record Hawaiian music for my halau!
I bought this audiobook eleven years ago, and listened to it in the manner that was available -- I think I had the Otis (remember that l'il gadget?). At the time, I wasn't very impressed. The first chapter dealt with his younger days and the effect that television had on him. I may have put the book down at that time, because I don't remember it being very hilarious, as I'd hoped it would be.
But recently I've been listening to the "Peter and the Starcatchers" series and I couldn't believe that Barry co-wrote that with Ridley Pearson. Sure enough, checking out Dave Barry's webpage listed "Dave Barry Does Japan" also among his credits, so I decided to give it another go. I downloaded it to my iTouch. (Big change from the Otis...)
I listen to Audible at night before dropping off to sleep, and last night I almost dropped out of bed I was laughing so hard. The Auidble app is great! I set it to quit after 30 minutes first then 60 minutes the second time, I was enjoying it that much. Oh, the difference a decade can make -- I've now been to Japan several times, I've got this great listening device, the book is still in my library, and I have mellowed.
Among all of his ribaldry, Dave does make some sober comments on our two very different cultures. I totally agree with him about what is happening in America -- nobody wants to do real work, like actually barnstorming an actual barn in a single day or sweeping streets -- everybody wants to be management, whereas the Japanese find dignity in every job, no matter how menial. Barry says they actually WORK. This accounts for their meteoric rise to a major world power and also contributes to America's shortfall in status.
But he is totally hilarious (and absolutely true) when it comes down to meeting the average Japanese person on the street, asking directions or trying to get directions on the phone. I've been there. I know he speaks the truth. The Japanese people are CRAZY and charming, and I personally can't wait for another chance to "do" Japan. I'll be taking good ol' Dave along with me. I'm glad I read it again.
Funny, a little out of date, but still funny
Barry, the writer. He sees the funny side of things in everything. A bit sophomoric at times but gives me a lot of hearty laughs.
There are countless of them. Highschool baseball, Tokyo Disneyland, No street names in Japan... to name a few.
The book is a collection of Barry's reports on Japan. To listen to it in one sitting is okay but I'd rather enjoy several episodes at one time as I don't want to feel numbed with all the punch lines that come one after another.
The performer is great with his comedy timing. The sound quality leaves something to be desired. Not as cear as more recent audiobooks.
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