In my early twenties, after the magazine I was working for threw its last party, I managed to string together a handful of freelance copyediting jobs. It was the year in New York, when a person could still sort of survive this way. The most sustaining of them was for the publisher Grove Atlantic, about which I was proud—they had William Burroughs, for one, and Jeanette Winterson, and Henry Miller. I walked to their Union Square offices from my East Village apartment to pick up the manuscripts, thick loose-leaf packages that inspired both purpose and dread.

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This was the weirdest book! It took me the longest time to read it, but now I am thankfully done. The story was about a man with a failing marriage, dreams of visiting Africa, and a wife who gave Bird, a young man awaiting the birth of his first child in a profoundly self absorbed state and when told the child has a fatal disfiguring defect seeks solace in whiskey and the company of a former Kenzaburo Oe was born on January 31, He was born in a small village on the island of Shikoku, Japan.

These influences appear in his early writings, which often deal with contemporary issues. With the birth of his deformed son, father and son became the new focus of his work. In his two books, A Personal Matter and A Healing Family , Oe describes the pain involved with accepting his brain-damaged son and the small victories involved their lives as his son progressed.

In , Oe won the Nobel Prize for Literature. A Personal Matter. Bird, the protagonist, is a young man of 27 with antisocial tendencies who more than once in his life, when confronted with a critical problem, has "cast himself adrift on a sea of whisky like a besotted Robinson Crusoe.

Should he keep it? Dare he kill it? Before he makes his final decision, Bird's entire past seems to rise up before him, revealing itself to be a nightmare of self-deceit. The relentless honesty with which Oe portrays his hero -- or antihero -- makes Bird one of the most unforgettable characters in recent fiction. Chapter 8. Chapter 1. Chapter 2. Chapter 3. Chapter 4. Chapter 5. Chapter 6. Chapter 7.

Chapter 9. Chapter


A Personal Matter

Kenzaburo Oe has both. Kenzaburo Oe, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, is internationally acclaimed as one of the most important and influential post-World War II writers, known for his powerful accounts of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and his own struggle to come to terms with a mentally handicapped son. The novel ends on an affirmative note as the hero realizes that he cannot run away from reality but must accept life as it is in the real world. Stucki, Library Journal. Its urban surroundings, the classless misfits that populate it, and its vivid sexual descriptions make it seem socially and thematically similar to its Occidental counterparts. The salesgirls paid no attention, their arms and necks goosepimpled where the uniform blouses exposed them. Evening was deepening, and the fever of early summer, like the temperature of a dead giant, had dropped completely from the covering air.


Personal Matters

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Written in , the novel is semi-autobiographical and dark in tone. It tells the story of Bird, a man who must come to terms with the birth of his mentally disabled son. The plot follows the story of Bird, a 27 year old Japanese man. The book starts with him wondering about a hypothetical trip to Africa, which is a recurrent theme in his mind throughout the story. Soon after day-dreaming about his trip and a brawl with a few local delinquents from the region, Bird receives a call from the doctor of the hospital regarding his newborn child, urging him to talk in person.

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