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Sayonara

Sayonara - James A. Michener I'm a Michener fan, so I hate to say it, but this book is simply not up to snuff. It is Michener's least-enjoyable book by a long shot. Full disclosure: others I've read so far are Hawaii, Chesapeake, Alaska, Tales of the South Pacific, Return to Paradise, and The Bridges at Toko-Ri. Sayonara is interesting for its generously detailed depiction of occupation-era Japan. What I don't like is the clunky romance at the center of the book's action. The protagonist, Major Lloyd Gruver, is not a particularly sympathetic figure: a spoiled General's son displaying no special merit, but attended to nonetheless by fawning sidekicks. Gruver is an archetypical "ugly American"- living in Japan, yet making little or no attempt to learn the language or understand the culture. To think that delicate Hana-ogi, a kabuki player (and thus a standard-bearer of traditional Japanese culture), would fall for this philistine's hamfisted advances is so absurd as to be offensive. I'm born and raised American, and I find him to be a boorish lout.The other thing that kind of annoys me is how Michener (who is writing from another time, and with the perspective of an older generation, I realize) seems to buy too much into the old stereotype of Asian woman as passive, submissive flowers. I've been married to an Asian woman for eight years, and I do love her dearly, but I think anybody who believes Asian women are passive or submissive is out of his friggin' mind.