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Ghost of a smile : stories
Deborah Boliver Boehm
Adult Fiction BOEHM

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Summary: The Japan that is the setting for these stories is a very cosmopolitan place, peopled by a diverse array of characters who exemplify the extremes of a rapidly changing culture. A rich, spoiled woman takes numerous lovers to ruin her own reputation and thus avoid an arranged marriage; a sumo wrestler conducts a doomed love affair with his stablesmaster's wife; a man who is the last peddler of live goldfish left in the country wants to gain admission to a selective disco and meets a beautiful woman who hides a dark secret. Through each of these tales runs a traditional Japanese ghost story. It's as if the world of modern Japan is not only seething with conflicting impulses toward new customs and the old, but is in fact a land of ghosts that freely intermingle with the inhabitants of this world. The people in Boehm's stories live in a world where the boundaries are quite fluid, and unseen things come straight into view and say the unspeakable. Characters in these stories suddenly find that all the people around them have an eggshell surface in place of a face, or that the beautiful naked woman standing outlined by the moonlight in the window of one's living room spends her days as a fox with brown fur and a bushy tail. Their lives are forever altered by their brief admission to these other realms. So the stories are suggestive of a broader world, while at the same time conveying a deep knowledge and fondness for Japan. Ghost of a Smile follows in the tradition of Memoirs of a Geisha, Audrey Hepburn's Neck and Snow Falling on Cedars -- fiction by non-Japanese authors that assumes the voice and the point of view of Japanese characters.

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