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Toshio has commented on (4) products.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
Lucky Us

Toshio, October 21, 2014

I love this book for what it is: a heartfelt picaresque journey into adulthood for sisters Eva (the plain pragmatic one) and Iris (the shooting star aspiring actress). Told through a series of vignettes, epistolary exchange and flashbacks, Amy Bloom utilizes her talents as a short story writer to create a hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking character driven romp set amidst the wild chaos of 1940s America.

Those who are only interested in detailed novels with broad canvases would probably be suited better by other authors, but for those who enjoy short story writing, this is a gem. Amy Bloom is one of the best.

Interesting side note, Bloom gives thanks to her heralded cousin for suggestions and line edits--Harold Bloom.
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Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge by Peter Orner
Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge

Toshio, April 16, 2014

Once again an impressive collection from Peter Orner. It's refreshing to read a collection of stories that don't necessarily always have to have a unifying theme or characters, although some of the stories in this collection do.

What I enjoy most about the stories is how Orner will have a laser sharp focus on a particular moment in time--maybe a family memory or story that's been passed down through the years and then he'll distill that moment down to its core leaving the reader with a profound understanding of that character or with a question that resonates with our own lives.

One example of this is in "Moors of Chicago" where he captures the dynamic of an entire family in a two page story. The narrator recalls his family visiting this hill, a place where his parents would bring the family in an attempt to bring them closer together. He remembers his father building a paper kite and in an attempt to bond with his children, to express his love for them, they go out to the hill for the test flight. The kite crashes to the ground and the boy stomps on it, destroying his fathers attempt.

He closes the story in such a way that we understand their issues, we understand that each member is somehow isolated from one another and this place that's supposed to bring them together cannot save them.
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Love and Shame and Love by Peter Orner
Love and Shame and Love

Toshio, January 19, 2012

A great book that tells the story of three generations of the Popper family through short 1-2 page vignettes. Orner is great at capturing memorable characters with just a few words of dialogue, or the seemingly small yet all important details he provides.

Take, for example, Tonnio, the indignant owner of a pizza joint where Popper works. He is humourously characterized first as a sort of over the top, stereotypical Itialian, full of bravado, big words and a sort of Godfather-esque sense of patronage for his employees. I would put in a quotation here, because it's terrifically funny, but Powells doesn't want us to use copyrighted material.

Where many writers would stop there and let Tonnio (who is a very minor character) serve simply as comedy relief, Orner pushes further. He tells us that Tonnio is always studying for his citizenship exam and that sometimes, Popper helps him study and again, they have a very humorous exchange about Garibaldi, the Federalist Papers and the Supreme Court, but then, at just the right moment we get this amazing moment where Tonnio stops. Popper is sweeping and Tonnio realizes with shock that Popper doesn't know how to sweep properly. He shows him how telling him it's like rowing a boat and it's simply a wonderfully captured scene.

Pick it up, gie it a read. Love and Shame and Love will not disappoint.
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Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (Rajio no jikan)
Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (Rajio no jikan)

Toshio, January 30, 2007

A farce about the trials and tribulations of putting on a live radio drama. A funny movie (although not nearly as good as classics like Tanpopo or Family Game) about how the egos involved in a radio drama program collide and chaos ensues. Some great cameos by famous Japanese actors.
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