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Author Archive: "Todd Shimoda"

The Future of Books

I didn't really want to weigh in on the debate about how digital books and the new wave of electronic readers like Amazon's Kindle (I know, both names are not to be mentioned at Powell's!) will affect the future of pen-and-ink books, or just plain books. I didn't want to bring it up mainly because the future of books looks fine to me, so I'm not worried that books will be going away . I have lots of other things to worry about, but that's for another blog.

I want books to be around for a long time. I love reading them and writing them. Growing up, I spent many happy hours in libraries, perusing the aisles of fiction, looking for my next adventure. In fifth and sixth grade I volunteered to help shelve books and repair bindings at the school library. I learned to appreciate the physicality of a book: the cover protecting the sheaved story inside, the stitching and glue holding the pages, the comforting smell of the paper and ink. There's a sheer tactile pleasure of flipping through the pages, touching the paper, feeling its heft.

A book ...

Endings and a Theory of Satisfaction

A friend who recently read Oh! enjoyed the book, although she wished it had ended differently. I won't tell you exactly how she wanted it to end because it would give away the ending. I know, it's hard to believe there are a still a few people who haven't read the book (ha-ha). Anyway, her comments and the ensuing conversation got me thinking about endings, specific to novels, of course, although my thoughts could apply to most kinds of writing.

To me, there are two kinds of endings: satisfactory and unsatisfactory. Satisfactory endings provide a pleasantly sated feeling. Unsatisfactory endings leave the reader disappointed, even mad at the author. Notice that I didn't say the two kinds of endings are the Resolved Ending and the Unresolved Ending. Or the Surprise Ending and the Expected Ending. Or the Sad Ending and the Happy Ending.

According to the Theory of Satisfaction, satisfaction is inherently personal. For example, one person reads a novel with a Resolved Ending, where all the story threads are neatly tied up, and feels ...

The Dreaded Question

When people find out I'm a book writer, they usually ask, "What kind of books do you write?" I know the question is coming but I always cringe when I hear it. It's a legitimate question, of course; the problem is I haven't figured out how to answer it.

Here's my academically-slanted answer: "My novels are postmodern-ish and somewhat experimental, employing sidebars, marginalia, elements of non-fiction and other genres, sprinkles of science and philosophy, and my wife's art. They deal with Asian or Asian-American themes, but also broad questions of existence. My characters include an artist who goes mad painting a view of Mt. Fuji every day for a year, a lovelorn competitive calligrapher, a naïve neuroscience graduate student, a dysfunctional museum curator, a technical writer searching for emotion. My plots weave together multiple storylines and time spans. My new novel Oh!: A Mystery of 'Mono No Aware' is no exception as you can tell by the title."

As you might imagine that answer causes some people a bit of discomfort, so I usually answer very broadly: "I write contemporary ...

A Chevy Truck and Cherry Blossoms

It seems like most fiction writers are eventually asked, "How autobiographical is your story?" Or "Which character is you?" From what I've read, most fiction writers don't claim much, if any, of their story is autobiographical, or claim...

With Much Gratitude: A Book about What?

I'd like to start my blogging with thanks to several good folks. It's not only because I feel indebted to them, but it will illustrate the number of people involved in developing a book, producing it, and marketing and selling it. The energy and creativity (not to mention money) they put into the project always amazes me. Of course I can't mention everyone, there are so many, and I promise not to let it go on too long before I get around to talking about my novel Oh! and writing in general.

Thanks to all at Chin Music Press. When I pitched Oh! to publisher Bruce Rutledge, blathering about centuries-old Japanese poetics, contemporary suicide clubs, bits of non-fiction, four-color art, and an antique Chevy pick-up truck, I thought I'd probably get a big non-response. But Bruce saw the potential and enthusiastically accepted the project. Also at CMP, thanks to Yuko Enomoto, Jennifer Abel, David Jacobson, Mark MacKay, Craig Mod, Dave Rutledge, and interns Kimi, Kate, Kenzo. A special thanks to designer Joshua Powell who created a work of ...

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