Bicycle Days

( 1 )

Overview

When Alec Stern arrives in Japan, he discovers a land of opportunity. For only in Tokyo could an impressionable young man fresh out of college find, in one stroke, a new job, a new family, and a society that lavishes attention on Japanese-speaking gaijin. Yet, even as Alec claims a place in this new world, he is haunted by memories of the one he left behind—a world once infinitely secure but which disintegrated with the breakup of his parents' marriage.

In this incandescently ...

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Bicycle Days

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Overview

When Alec Stern arrives in Japan, he discovers a land of opportunity. For only in Tokyo could an impressionable young man fresh out of college find, in one stroke, a new job, a new family, and a society that lavishes attention on Japanese-speaking gaijin. Yet, even as Alec claims a place in this new world, he is haunted by memories of the one he left behind—a world once infinitely secure but which disintegrated with the breakup of his parents' marriage.

In this incandescently observed novel, John Burnham Schwartz introduces readers to one of the most appealing protagonists in contemporary fiction while enchanting them with the keenness of his eye and the aptness of his voice. Through its exquisitely rendered scenes—a fishing trip of Zen-like serenity; a night at a sex club where giggling businessmen dive into the action—and vividly imagined characters—the laughing mother who taught Alec to ride a bicycle; the beautiful sad Japanese woman who teaches him how to love—Bicycle Days surprises, moves, and enlightens us as very few books do.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Graceful ... reminiscent of Fitzgerald.... [It] leaves us holding our breath for more." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Luminous...linger[s] after the story is finished." —The New York Times Book Review

"Has freshness and energy...announces the debut of a bright new voice in fiction." —The New York Times

"Schwartz subtly evokes the stirrings and upheavals of a culture, and a person, in transition." —Detroit Free Press

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fresh out of Yale, Alec Stern spends a summer working in an American computer company's Tokyo offices. Schwartz, a 23-year-old Harvard grad, vividly sets the scene of his promising if overly self-absorbed debut novel. Alec's romance with a 33-year-old Japanese woman, Kawashima, is the highlight of his stay. Through flashbacks to his boyhood in New York City, we learn that he came to the Orient partly to wipe the slate clean, to escape memories of his parents' divorce and his bitter fights with his older brother Mark. But Mark's unexpected appearance in Tokyo, combined with the death of Kawashima's aged grandfather, jolt Alec out of his Shangri-La. Schwartz has a good ear for the humorous misunderstandings and cultural differences that often arise in Japanese-American interactions. Unfolding in 40 vignettes sketched in a lean, almost mimimalist style, the diary-like narrative evokes a medley of sights and experiences with which Western readers can readily identify--a view of Mount Fuji, pachinko (pinball) parlors, the tea ceremony, coping with subways, Japanese family customs, shopping in department stores and fish markets. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375702754
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jophn Burnham Schwartz is the autho of Reservation Road. He lives in New York City with his wife, filmmaker Aleksandra Crapanzano.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2001

    An Interesting and sometimes emotional novel

    I wonder how much the novel parallels the life of the author. Nevertheless, it depicts the frenzied life of big business melded with the culture of older and modern Japan and a young man's efforts to assimilate all these factors into a life of his own. To complicate matters, he is haunted by the past life of his blood family in the US and his attempts to integrate into his adopted family in Japan. It is a fascinating story that keeps the reader guessing til the end what this young man will decide to do after living and working in Tokyo.

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