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5:45 AM Tue, Sept. 25th

BOOK CORNER: Please Enjoy Your Happiness, by Paul Brinkley-Rogers

Please Enjoy Your Happiness, by Paul Brinkley-Rogers

Please Enjoy Your Happiness, by Paul Brinkley-Rogers

Reviewed by Michaela Carter

Wise, inquisitive, and heart-breakingly tender, Brinkley-Rogers’ memoir moves seamlessly between the man he is now and the boy he was in 1959 when he was a sailor aboard the USS Shangri-La stationed off Japan. As much about the nature of memory and love as it is about life lived and reflected upon, Please Enjoy Your Happiness weaves poetry and effortless prose into a captivating tale of the beautiful, tragic woman he met in Yokosuka, Kaji Yukiko, who introduced him to Japanese poetry, to the reality of post World War II Japan, and to the treacherous territory of the human heart—a land misted with distant bells, but also layered with sorrows, and deeply honest.

Nothing about this memoir is typical. Their love story, though it spurs a lifetime of longing, was largely platonic. Brinkley-Rogers was 19, Kaji Yukiko, 31. In many ways, it is a reverse of the Pygmalion story. She encourages him to become a poet, and she influences him with her love for classical music and for the cinematic history of Japan. She writes him stunningly beautiful letters (ten of which are included in the book) and he writes back to her from his ship, which leaves and returns to Yokosuka during the spring and summer of ‘59. These ten letters, when he stumbles upon them in his study some fifty years later, become the inspiration for his memoir, which he writes as one long, last, love letter, addressing Yukiko as “you.”

Their relationship is not without peril. Raised in Manchuria, Yukiko fled with her family to Hiroshima, where she was forced into servitude by Yakuza gangsters. When one of them runs into her at the train station in Yokosuka and tries to kidnap her, Brinkley-Rogers is warned by the police and by his commander to not see her anymore. But that is impossible; she is already a part of him. She has lit the spark of the writer he will become.

Paul Brinkley-Rogers will be reading from and discussing his memoir Please Enjoy Your Happiness at the Peregrine Book Company on Saturday, August 13, at 2 pm.

Two Notable Books

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro

In The Buried Giant Ishiguro surpasses even his earlier masterpiece, The Remains of the Day. His perennial themes of remembrance, self-delusion, and the corrosive action of reality upon ideals propel protagonists Axl and Beatrice through a deeply unsettling early-medieval landscape teeming with human and inhuman dangers. Like others they meet, the aged couple have lost something they do not fully comprehend; its regaining may destroy what little they have left, and reverberate far beyond their own lives. Slowly the mysteries unravel towards a culmination that is equal parts bitter heartbreak and unspeakable beauty. A year after first reading The Buried Giant, I still feel this is emotional territory never before articulated.

Reviewed by Reva Sherrard, Peregrine Book Company Floor Manager

How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran

In her memoir, How to Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran wonders why so many of today’s modern young women don’t think of themselves as feminists, and, in fact, disassociate themselves from that word and concept. This memoir is meant to be an argument against that attitude, albeit an argument with wit and humor. “We need to reclaim the word feminism real bad,” she says. “I used to think, what do you think feminism is, ladies? What part of liberation for women is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote, the right not to be owned by the man that you marry, the campaign for equal pay, “Vogue” by Madonna, jeans? Did all that stuff just get on your nerves, or were you just drunk at the time of survey? These days, however, I am much calmer, since I realize that it’s actually technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on a woman’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor, biting down on a wooden spoon so as not to disturb the men’s card game, before going back to hoeing the rutabaga field.” And so on. You’ll laugh your head off. I certainly did.

Reviewed by Susan Lang, Peregrine Book Company Event Coordinator

Time Travel: A History, by James Gleick

Can one go back in time and prevent one’s own birth? Does time travel create “forks” in the universe with alternate events? What does it mean to be out of time? James Gleick explores such questions in his quirky yet philosophical work, Time Travel: A History, quoting from scientists and writers who have wrestled these questions. He takes a look at the way films, novels and short stories have handled eddies in time and pays homage to H. G. Wells, whose novel, The Time Machine, influenced both writers and physicists. If you want to bend your mind into a pretzel, this is the book that will do it. Available September 27, a good book to pre-order ahead of time.

Reviewed by Susan Lang, Peregrine Book Company Event Coordinator