What makes this book amazing is the freshness and concision of its insights -- given that the author wrote it first in his native Russian before translating it into English -- yet Alexey has been an English-speaker for only two years and a smile.
The book is a diary; it follows a strict time flow, starting in Russia, arriving in New York, going on to witness Chicago and other cities, through a noticing foreigner's eyes.
Moyayama translates from Russian to roughly "my ditch" (or: my-niche), yes, run together like that. It consists of various Japanese poetry forms strung together and divided into sections by its context-dividing artwork. Of the forms, haiku and haibun predominate. What are haibun? Haibun comprise short pieces of prose displayed together with haiku -- as a thematic unit. The layout of the book makes it clear what goes with what.
The 44-page work contains many stand-alone haiku, haibun, senryu and tanka: quite a browsing feast for those interested in Japanese poetic styles. More interesting still is how it all reads together -- exactly like a diary, only sparse, quick, changing in slivers of narrative and sharp digs of feeling.
This is a most unusual book -- fun to read -- a good way to review one's take on America -- and an intimate way to get into Alexey's head. As for the illustrations, a handful of amazingly deft drawings by Alexey and his Chile-born fellow student in Morgantown, Francisco Amaya, make this little volume chockful of jewels.
Early morning. I walk home from the railway station. Without my footsteps the silence would be perfect. Then - a burst: three, four alarm clocks start ringing at 7:00 in the houses around me. And silence again; but now it's not the same silence that was before.
spring morning -
your little watch
left on the edge of the sink
Copyright © 9 May 1996 Alexey Andreyev
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Copyright © 1996 A Small Garlic Press. All rights reserved.
Created 1996/5/5. Updated last on 2008/5/2.