FTC: I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this review are one hundred percent true and my own.
Motions & Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko this was such an impressive set of essay’s to read. I enjoyed this because I felt like got a very good idea of what it is like in Japan. It is somewhere that I would love to visit, but I don’t know if I ever would be able to visit there. This left me wanting to go because I was able to get a look at what it is like there. At times I did get confused, but I know that if I was in Japan trying to figure everything out I would be just as confused by everything that was going on around me. I was confused, but I wasn’t left worried or scared because it was just an essay and I knew that I would be able to figure stuff out later. He did have a glossary at the end of the book that explained what things were, but I didn’t even look at it until the end because I wanted to try and figure it out like I would have to do if I ever traveled there on my own. All in all, I enjoyed this book and I know I will go back and read parts of it again because I loved feeling like I was there and being able to figure everything out as I was reading the different essays.
About The Book
Motions and Moments is the third book by Michael Pronko on the fluid feel and vibrant confusions of Tokyo life. These 42 new essays burrow into the unique intensities that suffuse the city and ponder what they mean to its millions of inhabitants.
Based on Pronko’s 18 years living, teaching and writing in Tokyo, these essays on how Tokyoites work, dress, commute, eat and sleep are steeped in insights into the city’s odd structures, intricate pleasures and engaging undertow.
Included are essays on living to size and loving the crowd, on Tokyo’s dizzying uncertainties and daily satisfactions, and on the 2011 earthquake. As in his first two books, this collection captures the ceaseless flow and passing flashes of life in biggest city in the world with gentle humor and rich detail.
My new collection of essays, Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo, just out in December 2015, covers different ground from the first two collections. I look at the structures inside Tokyo’s cultural life, but also at the flow of life here, the pleasures, which always seem entangled with aggravations, and the odd instances and situations the city drags me into.
From what I can tell from past reviewers, and from old friends on Facebook, picking up your life and setting it down in Tokyo is kind of a strange thing for a boy from Kansas to do! I have lived, taught and written in Tokyo for eighteen years now. I work as a professor at Meiji Gakuin University teaching American literature, culture, film, music, and art.
Living here all seems so natural to me, though, but not always. My essays spring from that precarious balance of familiar and unfamiliar, from life lived in an intense place. I love having a day job that’s engaging, where students ask questions about literature, art, music, film and life. Going from the classroom out to Tokyo I get even more questions. The city asks me as many questions as the students do.
In that sense, I’m definitely with Thoreau, even though I can’t think of anyplace more different from Tokyo than Walden Pond. Thoreau captured it right when he said: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Tokyo life teaches me a lot of essentials, too.
Over the years, I have written for many publications in Japan: The Japan Times for a dozen years, the once-great Tokyo Q, a learner-oriented weekly ST Shukan, Winds magazine, Jazznin, and Jazz Colo[u]rs (in Italian!). These days, I write about Japanese art for Artscape Japan. That gets me out to galleries, museums and odd cultural spots. My other writing is for my own website Jazz in Japan (jazzinjapan.com). I go out to jazz clubs as often as I can, which isn’t as often as I want.
The new book forms a trilogy of sorts with the first two, Beauty and Chaos and Tokyo’s Mystery Deepens. The essays in those two collections were mostly culled from my regular column in Newsweek Japan in Japanese. Many of the new essays come from that Newsweek Japan column, but many are completely new.