Getting Oriented: A Novel about Japan

Overview

After an old college buddy persuades him to guide a group of Americans traveling through Japan, Phil Fletcher's debut as a tour guide takes his life in unexpected directions. The group includes a high-powered career woman who finds far more than historic sights in the Land of the Rising Sun; a man who discovers a hidden interest in Japanese erotica; a neglected wife and a Southern belle vying for attention on Phil's futon; and a retired couple facing their deepest fears on the much-anticipated trip of a lifetime....
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Overview

After an old college buddy persuades him to guide a group of Americans traveling through Japan, Phil Fletcher's debut as a tour guide takes his life in unexpected directions. The group includes a high-powered career woman who finds far more than historic sights in the Land of the Rising Sun; a man who discovers a hidden interest in Japanese erotica; a neglected wife and a Southern belle vying for attention on Phil's futon; and a retired couple facing their deepest fears on the much-anticipated trip of a lifetime. Private dramas provoke crises and life-changing decisions during this twelve-day tour of Japan, as the group travels from the serenity of ancient Kyoto temples to the towering heights of Tokyo skyscrapers.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An American tour guide to Japan in charge of a handful of motley, clueless compatriots finds his charges' eccentricities touching in this nicely noisy, descriptive novel. At 55, Phil Fletcher, a recently downsized advertising salesman from Katonah, N.Y., finds himself shepherding tourists around Japan for two weeks on behalf of the Zarin World of Travel Agency—a not unwelcome distraction from his grief at the untimely death of his wife, Helen, to whom he writes a running letter on his laptop when in his hotel room. As Phil dispenses Japanese history to tour groups, visits temples, and tries not to lose anyone on the trains, he becomes involved in the lives of the tourists, including an elderly couple who have come to Japan to kill themselves, a sex-obsessed husband who requests Phil translate an erotic comic book, and a hapless woman who is being drugged by her Japanese boyfriend. Wood ably manipulates his awkward Americans around Japanese tourist sites, and the reader finds his characters, as Fletcher does, winningly humorous and sympathetic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781463525286
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/13/2011
  • Pages: 242
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Wally Wood is a professional writer with 19 business books to his credit. A lifelong lover of Japan old and new, he has led tour groups through the country and vacationed there many times. He lives in Connecticut with his very-much-alive wife, Marian. For more about Japan and the writing life as well as a book club discussion guide, please visit his Getting Oriented blog at: http://gettingorientednovel.blogspot.com
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    All Things Must Pass

    Getting Oriented is an affecting debut novel by business author and journalist Wally Wood. Its wry, mournful narrative takes us on a journey into the mysteries of the human soul as represented by Japan. Phil Fletcher, the book's protagonist, is a recently-widowed, laid-off publishing executive. His life would seem pointless to him if he could feel anything. So when an old college buddy who owns a travel agency asks Phil to step in at the last minute, to guide a group of 12 Americans traveling through Japan, Phil aimlessly agrees. As befits the psychological truth of Phil's situation, and the needs of realistic fiction, Wood paints his main character as cynical, resentful and self-pitying. Yet, somehow, we keep rooting for him as Wood also lets the more touching aspects of Phil's humanity show through. For example: Phil is so devastated by the death of his wife, Helen, so devoted to her memory, that he maintains a heartbreaking vigil, writing her secret, confessional letters most nights on his computer. Wood deftly sketches the other tour members as a cross-section of irritable, easily distracted, middle class Americans. Their interactions with Phil and with each other are dryly funny, yet slowly, we learn that the arcs of their lives are as played out as Phil's. But as the journey proceeds, Phil and the others begin exhibiting the tiniest, most incremental signs of spiritual and psychological rebirth. The signs are small, even incidental. Yet they have dramatic impact on the journey and the travelers themselves. Meanwhile, we are treated to a stunning tour of Japan. The narrative subtly describes a thousand interesting facts and relevant truths about this most complex of nations-an ancient civilization that is among the world's most modern. To become oriented means to face east, to ascertain one's bearings, to be set right through adjustment to certain facts. And this novel draws significant power from the most elemental of facts: all things pass. Death, in all its forms, is inescapable. The acceptance of this truth comes slowly but inevitably to Phil and his 12 charges, as they journey toward the rising sun, toward insights and new beginnings in an ancient world. Getting Oriented is the perfect guide book for such a special tour.//

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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