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Memoirs of a Geisha ()

Vintage Books List of the Best Reading Group Books (1)

So, I admit it.  I don't get it.  The reviews and the hype surrounding this novel suggest that Arthur Golden had pulled off a miraculous feat in imagining this tale of a geisha.  The obvious implication being that a white American male can't penetrate the mind of an Oriental woman.  Well, first of all, why?  This is what writers do, create vibrant worlds to transport their readers to.  Is it because of the inscrutable Asian thing?  For one thing, how do we know his portrayal is even accurate?  Second, what has he done here that authors like James Clavell haven't done before?  Or putting the shoe on the other foot, remember the way that Kazuo Ishiguro captured the world of a British butler in Remains of the Day?

There's a great story about Dustin Hoffman running around to get sweaty, staying up late to get sleep deprived and starving himself, all to get ready for the torture scene in Marathon Man.  Olivier supposedly turned to him and asked: Did you consider acting the scene?  Actors act, writers write, what's the big deal?

So you're left with the story of a prostitute.  I know, I know, it's all gussied up and there are all these rituals involved.  It's supposedly an art.  But at the point where you auction off your virginity, you're hooking.  And of course she's likable, we all know every hooker has a heart of gold.

It's all mildly diverting, but nothing to get too worked up over.


Grade: (C)


Book-related and General Links:
    -READING GUIDE: (Vintage Books)
    -INTERVIEW:  A Conversation with Arthur Golden (Vintage Books)
    -INTERVIEW:   A talk with Arthur Golden (CNN)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW:   Arthur Golden on the how geishas become geishas:  ( CBC Radio 1999)
    -Arthur Golden: Book Summary, Reviews  Author Biography (Book Browse)
    -EXCERPT:  (Book Browse)
    -ARTICLE : Geisha's memoirs 'tarnished' by Golden portrayal :  A former geisha who helped inspire Arthur Golden's million-selling novel Memoirs of a Geisha has accused him of tarnishing her reputation and wrongly portraying aspects of her life (HILLEL ITALIE, The Age)
    -REVIEW: (Judith Handschuh, The Book Report, Book Wire)
    -REVIEW: A Woman's Tale, Imagined by a Man (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: Working Woman (John David Morley, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: (Kathie Nuckols Lawson, Book Browser)
    -REVIEW: (Kate Tuttle, Boston Phoenix)
    -REVIEW: ( W. Dire Wolff , Japan Book Store)
    -REVIEW: Malaysian News & Views Book Club
    -REVIEW: (Glenn Giffin, Denver Post Book Editor)
    -REVIEW: Best Seller Reviews
    -REVIEW: (Dennis Y. Ginoza, Seattle Contemporary Review of Asian American Literature)
    -ESSAY: Not big in Japan: Arthur Golden's American bestseller, "Memoirs of a Geisha," gets a thumbs down from the country where it's set (Jennifer Hanawald, Salon)