Friday, October 16, 2009


The Illusion That is Ebay

I've written about my mixed feelings where used books are concerned--particularly for a debut novelist like me. But something popped up today that amused me in a perverse way. Here is a description of my novel, for sale now on Ebay.

Marie Mutsuki Mockett's first novel is a multi-generational saga which maps the intricate interactions between nature and nurture in a Japanese family. The center of the mother-daughter-granddaughter trio is Satomi, born in a remote Japanese village to a mother who runs a saloon for postwar American G.I.'s, any one of whom could be Satomi's father. This shameful lifestyle ostracizes the pair from the rest of the villagers, but Satomi's gift for playing the piano earns them a temporary reprieve. Eventually, Satomi must leave her mother to the hostilities of the village as she follows her talent out into the wider world. Meanwhile, the split narrative reveals the life of Satomi's own daughter, Rumi, who has a supernatural ability to authenticate antiques. Rumi believes her mother to be dead, but an encounter with a presence from her family's past directs her to investigate her history and determine the origin of her independent spirit and her eerie sensibilities.

The bolding is mine. I'll get back to that.

Once upon a time, I used to prepare kids to take the SAT test, which included teaching them reading comprehension tips. In other words, I taught them to understand what they were reading. As in, if they didn't accurately comprehend the words on the page, then they would not be able to answer the questions correctly and then would not score so well on the test.

I challenge anyone out there to show me where in my novel it is written that Satomi's mother:

1. Runs a saloon
2. Runs the saloon for GIs
3. Comes anywhere near any GIs
4. Had sex with an American GI
5. Could have produced a child with an American GI
6. Is abandoned by her daughter to the townspeople

The fascinating thing is that the pages about Satomi's mother and her childhood are all at the beginning of the book--like pages 1 to 5. One wouldn't have to read too far to be able to figure out that there is no saloon, and no American GI anywhere in the book (intentionally I might add). Part of the point of the novel, as others have noted, is that the women aren't victims. Though I can understand that someone reading might see what they want to, based on other books about Asia or tragic musicals starring sadly devoted Vietnamese girls. This cannot be helped. Part of the message of Picking Bones from Ash was that it's always a challenge to pick out what is real from what is an illusion.

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