Bicycle Days

John Burnham Schwartz, Author Summit Books $18.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-66600-2
Fresh out of Yale, Alec Stern spends a summer working in an American computer company's Tokyo offices. Schwartz, a 23-year-old Harvard grad, vividly sets the scene of his promising if overly self-absorbed debut novel. Alec's romance with a 33-year-old Japanese woman, Kawashima, is the highlight of his stay. Through flashbacks to his boyhood in New York City, we learn that he came to the Orient partly to wipe the slate clean, to escape memories of his parents' divorce and his bitter fights with his older brother Mark. But Mark's unexpected appearance in Tokyo, combined with the death of Kawashima's aged grandfather, jolt Alec out of his Shangri-La. Schwartz has a good ear for the humorous misunderstandings and cultural differences that often arise in Japanese-American interactions. Unfolding in 40 vignettes sketched in a lean, almost mimimalist style, the diary-like narrative evokes a medley of sights and experiences with which Western readers can readily identify--a view of Mount Fuji, pachinko (pinball) parlors, the tea ceremony, coping with subways, Japanese family customs, shopping in department stores and fish markets. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Paperback - 253 pages - 978-0-375-70275-4
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-452-26421-2
Open Ebook - 158 pages - 978-0-307-78752-1
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