Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Alan Brown's story is a comical yet emotional tale of a Japanese man obsessed with American women, after viewing his first Audrey Hepburn film at the age of nine. Jane, a flamboyant American English teacher, seduces Toshi, a twenty-three-year-old manga cartoonist living in Tokyo. As Toshi tries to carve a life for himself, he discovers the complexities associated with sexuality and American women, especially Jane. Throughout the book, Brown beautifully captures how atypical and baffling the Western style can be to someone from outside the culture. Not only does Toshi struggle in his relations with American women throughout the novel, but also with a troubled childhood and a family secret that is slowly exposed to the reader. Brown's witty lines and dry humor make the book entertaining while still supplying an accurate depiction of many national characteristics through the character's actions.
One scene, in which Brown clearly portrayed Toshi's misconception and stereotype of Americans as a whole, took place on page 115. Over a dinner conversation between Toshi and his American friend Paul, Paul lightheartedly made the comment "Don't come complaining to me if you wake up with a knife in your back" in regards to Toshi going on a date with one of Jane's friends. Paul's comment immediately invoked thoughts of terror in Toshi, as he recalled images from the Japanese news and Hollywood movies in which Americans often killed one frequently, in a nonchalant manor, with no remorse. Toshi went on to envision everyday objects that he had seen American actors use to murder one another and it was stated that Toshi believed that "anything can be a murder weapo...
... middle of paper ...
...graphically and culturally different places with one unifying theme, the Japanese fascination and often misinterpretation of the West.
Personally, I would recommend reusing this novel in future courses about Japanese culture. I believe the book can provide valuable insight into the modern city life of Japan through captivating writing that full of clever plot twists that make the book difficult to put down. Brown's book coincides with many of the topics we have discussed in class about Japan, especially those relating to cultural differences between Americans and the Japanese. I think it is important to incorporate a book like Audrey Hepburn's Neck into lecture because it provides a glimpse into the Japanese psyche while incorporating factual information to keep the reader from being misled. I enjoy the book and hope other will do the same in ensuing classes.
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