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|Read E-pub â Memoirs of a Geisha ì A Literary Sensation And Runaway Bestseller, This Brilliant Debut Novel Presents With Seamless Authenticity And Exquisite Lyricism The True Confessions Of One Of Japan S Most Celebrated GeishaIn Memoirs Of A Geisha, We Enter A World Where Appearances Are Paramount Where A Girl S Virginity Is Auctioned To The Highest Bidder Where Women Are Trained To Beguile The Most Powerful Men And Where Love Is Scorned As Illusion It Is A Unique And Triumphant Work Of Fiction At Once Romantic, Erotic, Suspenseful And Completely Unforgettable I read this a long time ago a favorite Its amazing a male wrote this book sure felt like a female speaking. Memoirs of a Geisha is an American novel, and as such the attempt at West does East, especially on the complex and delicate subject of the geisha, is compelling, interesting, but also heavy handed and ultimately ineffective even so in the case of the film It is a wonderful introduction to geisha, Japanese culture, and the East for the uninitiated Western reader, and I can see why the book is popular, but I found it disappointing For the reader already familiar with the culture, western influences are all too clear and the book comes off as a bit clunky and imperfect I also had some problems with the general perception of the characters by readers versus the way the characters were actually portrayed in the book Memoirs is far from the good willed fairy tale that people assume it is By all means, read it, but leave it open for critique and remember that a authentic representation of eastern culture, especially in the details, will come from the east itself.A lot of my critique stems from the fact that this movie has attained such wide spread fame and been made into a movie, to be sure I feel like it is being perpetuated as something it is not Even the introduction to the book a faux translator s note perpetuates the myth that Memoirs is an accurate, beautiful, in depth reflection of the life of a geisha, when in truth it is no that historical fiction and is written by an outsider Golden has done his research and is well educated on his subjects, and I have no problem with people reading from, taking interest in, and even learning from this book I do, however, think it is important that readers don t conflate the American novel with Japanese reality They aren t the same thing, no matter how much research Golden did, and if we take the book as an accurate representation we re actually underestimating and undervaluing geisha, Japan, and Japanese culture.Because Golden attempts to write from within the geisha culture, as a Japanese woman, he must do than report the facts of that life he must also pretend to be a part of it Pretend he does, acting out a role as if he has studied inflection, script, and motivation He certainly knows what makes writing Japanese but his attempt to mimic it is not entirely successful The emphasis on elements, the independent sentences, the visual details are too prevalent and too obvious, as if Golden is trying to call our attention to them and thus to the Japanese style of the text He does manage to draw attention, but to me, at least, what I came away with was the sense that Golden was an American trying really hard to sound Japanese that is, the effect betrayed the attempt and the obvious attempt ruined the sincerity of the novel, for me I felt like I was being smacked over the head with beauty wood water kimono haiku and I felt insulted and disappointed.The problems that I saw in the text were certainly secondary to the purpose of the text to entertain, to introduce Western readers to Japanese culture, and to sell books and eventually a film They may not be obvious to all readers and they aren t so sever that the book isn t worth reading I just think readers need to keep in mind that what Golden writes is fiction Historical fiction, yes, but still fiction, therefore we should look for a true representation of Japanese culture within Japanese culture itself and take Memoirs with a grain of salt.I also had problems with the rushed end of the book, the belief that Sayuri is a honest, good, modest, generous person when she really acts for herself and at harm to others throughout much of the book, the perpetuation of Hatsumomo as unjustified and cruel when she has all the reason in the world, and in general the public belief that Memoirs is some sort of fairy tale when in fact it is heavy handed, biased, and takes a biased or unrelatistic view toward situations, characters, and love However, all of those complains are secondary, in my view, to the major complain above, and should be come obvious to the reader.Memoirs goes quickly, is compelling, and makes a good read, and I don t want to sound too unreasonably harsh on it However, I believe the book has a lot of faults that aren t widely acknowledged and I think we as readers need to keep them in mind This is an imperfect Western book, and while it may be a fun or good book it is not Japanese, authentic, or entirely well done.
Like eating fancy dessert at a gourmet restaurant, Memoirs of a Geisha is beautiful, melts lightly off the tongue and will be forgotten shortly after it s done The language is strikingly lovely, and Golden paints a remarkable picture of a time and place If you re looking to learn something deep about the psychology of Japanese culture, or meet nuanced characters, then I d steer you elsewhere The story only skims the top of the complicated aspects of a Japan in decline, focusing mostly on a genteel lifestyle that probably seems appealing from the outside There s a way in which the book, written by a man and a westerner, is slightly fetishistic, but less so than you might imagine.Another reader suggested that perhaps the superficiality of the story is intentional, and that the book, in a way, resembles a geisha Beautiful and eager to please, yet too distant to really learn much from and ultimately little than a beautiful, well crafted object to be appreciated If that s the case, Arthur Golden is remarkably clever, and I applaud him If it s not the case, the book remains very pretty and an easy read. Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper Geisha Mineko Iwasaki basis for Chiyo Sayori.Chiyo, with her sister Satsu, and her mother and father live in a shack by the sea on the coast of Japan The shack leans, and has to be propped up to keep from total collapse Her mother is sick and on the verge of death Her father is a fisherman, uneducated, and generally befuddled by anything that doesn t have to do with his fishing nets When a businessman from the village comes to them with an offer to take their girls to the city it doesn t take much to convince the father that nearly any opportunity is better than staying there in the tilted shack by the sea He was wrong Or was he Without a crystal ball or access to a series of timelines showing the variations created by changing key decisions at critical junctures how can we know Satsu, who is fifteen, is promptly placed with a brothel Not exactly what her father had in mind I m sure he was told she would be trained for domestic service Chiyo, who is nine, is deemed young enough to be trained to be a geisha She is a lovely child with startling rare gray blue eyes Those Blue Eyes are what set her apart.The Mother of her geisha house is equally startling in appearanceInstead of being white and clear, the whites of her eyes had a hideous yellow cast, and made me think at once of a toilet into which someone had just urinated They were rimmed with the raw lip of her lids, in which a cloudy moisture was pooled, and all around them the skin was sagging Obvious a bit of a failing liver issue going on here, but wait she is really much muglyI drew my eyes downward as far as her mouth, which still hung open The colors of her face were all mixed up the rims of her eyelids were red like meat, and her gums and tongue were gray And to make things horrible, each of her lower teeth seemed to be anchored in a little pool of blood at the gumsOkay so Chiyo lets out a gasp She starts out her new life in trouble It doesn t end there She is quickly considered a threat to the lovely and vindictive Hatsumomo who is the only fully trained geisha working for the house Chiyo is accused of stealing not true She is accused of ruining an expensive kimono with ink true but under duress She is caught trying to escape she broke her arm in the process so try and give the kid a break Well, all of this ends up costing her two years working as a housemaid when she could have been training as a geisha She receives an unexpected benefactress, a mortal enemy of Hatsumomo named Mameha decides to take Chiyo under her wing and insure that she has another opportunity to become a geisha Chiyo, tired of scrubbing floors and being the do this and do that girl of the household realizes her best chance at some form of freedom is to elevate herself The Movie based on this book was released in 2005 and directed by Rob Marshall.At age 15 her virginity or mizuage is put up for auction It is hard not to think of this as a barbaric custom, but for a geisha, if a bidding war erupts, she can earn enough money to pay off all the debts that have accumulated for her training Chiyo, now called Sayuri, is fortunate to have two prominent men wanting to harvest her flower The winner is Dr Crab who paid a record amount for the privilegeOf course his name wasn t really Dr Crab, but if you d seen him I m sure the same name would have occurred to you, because he had his shoulders hunched up and his elbows sticking out so much, he couldn t have done a better imitation of a crab if he d made a study of it He even led with one shoulder when he walked, just like a crab moving along sideways Not the vision that any girl would have for her first time, but ultimately it is a business transaction that frees Sayori from the bonds of debt After the deed is done, the eel spit in the cave, Dr Crab brought out a kit filled with bottles that would have made Dexter jealous Each bottle has a blood sample, soaked in a cotton ball or a piece of towel of every geisha he has ever treated including the blood from his couplings for their virginity He cuts a piece of blood soaked towel that was under Sayori and added it to the bottle with her name Ewwehhh with a head snapping shiver.The cultural obsession, every country seems to have one, with female virginity is simply pathological Girls can t help, but be fearful of the process Not strapped to a table by a serial killer type fear, but still there has to be that underlying hum as the man prepares to enter her I wonder if men, especially those who avidly pursue the deflowering of maidens, are getting off on that fear I ve made myself feel a little queasy now Sayori is on her way to a successful career She is in love with a man called The Chairman and wishes that he will become her danna, a patron, who can afford to keep a geisha as a mistress There are people in the way, keeping them from being together, and so even though there were many geishas who wished for her level of success she still couldn t help feeling sadAnd then I became aware of all the magnificent silk wrapped about my body, and had the feeling I might drown in beauty At that moment, beauty itself struck me as a kind of painful melancholy It was fascinating watching this young girl grow up in such a controlling environment and yet, a system that can also be very deadly One misstep, one bit of scandal, and many geishas found themselves ostracized by the community They could very easily find themselves in a brothel During WW2 the geisha community was disbanded, and the girls had to find work elsewhere Sayori was fortunate Despite all the hardships I know she was enduring, Arthur Golden chose not to dwell on them in great detail I was surprised by this because authors usually want and need to press home those poignant moments, so that when the character emerges from the depths of despair the reader can have a heady emotional response to triumph over tragedy I really did feel like I was sitting down for tea with Sayori, many years later, and she, as a way of entertaining me, was telling me her life story Golden interviewed a retired geisha by the name of Mineko Iwasaki who later sued him for using too much of her life story to produce this book She even had light brown eyes not as striking as Sayori s blue gray eyes, but certainly light enough to be unusual I wonder if Iwasaki was still the perfect geisha, keeping her story uplifting, and glossing over the aspects that could make her company uncomfortable Mineko IwasakiThe book is listed in the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die It was also made into a film, which I ve been avoiding, knowing that I wanted to read the book first I notice some reviewers take issue with Sayori They feel she did not assert herself, and take control of her life She does in the end, but she is patient, and waits for a moment when she can predict the outcome I feel that she did what she needed to do to survive Most of the time she enjoyed being a geisha It takes a long time to learn not only the ways to entertain, but also all the rigid traditions that must be understood to be a successful geisha As she gets older, and can clearly define the pitfalls of her actions, we see her manipulating the system in her favor If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at