Tag Archives: Pearl Harbor

What Do You Like to Read?

11 Feb

I love to read books that give me a glimpse into the hearts of people living in different times and cultures.  I feel like I’m getting a history or poly sci lesson minus the boring stuff.  Martin Cruz Smith is a master of this kind of writing.  Typically he writes about post-communist Russia.  But in the novel December 6 his setting is Pre-WWII Japan in the days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  The protagonist is Harry Niles.  Born in Japan to American missionary parents, Harry is American in fact, but Japanese in soul and spirit.  To the Japanese, though, he will only ever be a gaijin, a foreigner.  Here’s one of my favorite passages:

Gaijin were freaks, and Harry’s parents were the biggest freaks of all.  The pair of them preaching the gospel on a street corner was almost mortally embarrassing to Harry.  First was the presumption of preaching at all before being asked.  Second was his father’s total inability to speak Japanese.  Third was his mother’s partial Japanese.  Fourth was the fact that she spoke not women’s but men’s Japanese, full of bluster no decent woman would use.  Fifth was the way she stood beside her husband instead of behind him.  Sixth was their mysterious ignorance about how much and to whom to bow.  Seventh was their loudness.  Eight was their clumsiness.  Ninth was their color.  Tenth was their size.  Those were the Ten Sins of Gaijin, and every day Roger and Harriet Niles were guilty of each one.

–Martin Cruz Smith, December 6 ©2002 by Titanic Productions, ©2003 Simon & Schuster.

This has nothing to do with being single, but the book is marginally related to missions work, and since I will be taking my first missions trip soon, and since good writing is always relevant, December 6 has earned a post.

Happy Friday.