Sunday, February 19, 2006

A view from the Chuo Line - Donald Richie

"Are you going to read books with your friends tonight?" Zume asked, probably lounging in his car. "No, I am not going to read the book, the author is." And then a long pause, quite obviously Zume was not picturing the event. "I'm going to a book reading. You know how Carrie on Sex and the City goes and reads her books in front of people? Well that's kind of what tonight will be like...I think." Now tuning in, "Oh wow that's really cool. Make sure you wear a jacket"

To be honest I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had missed Donald Richie's previous reading at Ben's cafe in Takadonobaba so I was delighted when a friend invited me to another of Sir Donald's (I am quite sure he has not been knighted but I like the sound of it) reading at the cosy Sun and Moon Yoga Studio in Meguro.

The reading was far greater than I had imagined. Donald Richie, author of Ozu, The Inland Sea, Tokyo Nights and countless other books from over 50 years of writing in and on Japan, gave much more that an animated reading from his latest 'A View from the Chuo Line'. The 81 year old, with the vigor of someone decades his junior, spoke of life as an outsider in Japan and his undying attention to all things. I scrawled these quotes in the back of his book moments before he scrawled his signature in the front.

"A life properly lived is the ability to pay attention to everything"
"People all over the world think differently, but they all feel the same" (Offered when asked how he considers his audience.


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