Big in Japan: A Ghost Story

Big in Japan: A Ghost Story

by M. Thomas Gammarino

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780974199597
Publisher: Chin Music Press Inc.
Publication date: 11/01/2009
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,287,172
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author


M. Thomas Gammarino is the author of the novella Jellyfish Dreams (Amazon Kindle Single, 2012) and the novel King of the Worlds (coming from Chin Music Press April 2016). In 2013 he received the Elliot Cades Award for Literature. He lives and teaches in Honolulu with his wife and kids.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“In Brain, Gammarino has created a perfect hero for the Age of Anxiety. Propelled by the author’s knack for both pitch-perfect dialogue and startling metaphors, the reader follows Brain on an ill-fated tour of the Land of the Rising Sun, where he loses his band but finds himself in slow, painful, hilarious fashion.” —Ron Currie Jr., author of Everything Matters! and God is Dead.

“This book will make you wonder if you've ever had sex. I mean ever really had sex, and if you haven't, should you? It's a book that takes on the big questions. Can desire be quenched? What is enlightenment? To find out you much become the brains of a rock band that goes sky high while you descend literally to the bowels of the Earth. Above all this is a serious book (by a terrific writer), painful, soulful, and at the same time one of the funniest books I've ever read. Gammarino is first rate.” —Robert Shapard, editor of New Sudden Fiction: Short-Short Stories from America and Beyond

"Think a more jocular Joshua Furst, a much smarter Chuck Palahniuk. Think a hipper cross-cultural version of Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons as narrated by the suitors." — Kevin T.S. Tang, KGB Lit Journal

"Self- and sex-obsessed, Brain is an easy character to despise. It is to Gammarino's credit that we remain interested in him as he spirals downward" — David Cozy, Japan Times

"Gammarino writes with the self-assurance and narrative voice of a well-seasoned (and well-traveled) professional." — Danielle Dreger-Babbitt, Seattle Books Examiner

"Gammarino shows real promise as an author who can crack open the head of a warped individual and show us the rot inside." — Paul Constant, The Stranger

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Big in Japan: A Ghost Story 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
SatansParakeet on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I find it very hard to figure out what I actually think about this novel. It's kind of a crazy amalgamation of different stuff. Mostly it's about the weird sexual awakening of the main character, Brain, in Japan. Brain is kind of unbelievably naive which takes something away from the story for me, but at least he's consistently so. On top of that main "journey" there are also some forays into Buddhism and Japanese culture, along with the jealousy story of Brain's feelings about the insane success of his old band. Then at the end everything goes completely batshit crazy in really weirdly unexpected ways. It's all a fairly interesting journey, but one that doesn't hold together all that well as far as having an overarching theme or message. A story doesn't necessarily have to have that sort of theme, but it might help make sense of some of the insanity in this case.
alcopop on LibraryThing 7 months ago
While this was a powerful book to read, I found the pacing very jerky and a bit unsettling. Brain was a very interesting character, and I was pulled along to the finish despite the junior high-esque humor. I passed it along to a friend in my History of Manga class, and he absolutely loved it.
paghababian on LibraryThing 7 months ago
To quote from the book, it's "not half bad - which is to say, it's not half good either." The story starts off about a band who has a bigger following in Japan than the US, so they go to Japan for a short tour. It quickly (and yet slowly?) becomes more of a coming-of-age for one of the band members, Brain. I can't say I was terribly interested by this book, but I felt compelled to see where it was going. Maybe it wasn't worth the journey...
morrigirl on LibraryThing 7 months ago
At turns crass and cerebral, "Big in Japan" captures the distinctive blend of ambivilence and desperation that characterizes the transition from childhood to adulthood.It's risky to place an emotionally stunted character at the apex of a novel, and Brain Tesdesco is nothing if not stunted. But Gammarino imbued him with a naked vulnerability that was both endearing and relatable. Even when Brain's behavior crosses the line from self-defeating into selfish and cruel, I couldn't write him off as just another man behaving badly. His motivations were far too complex and his psyche too broken for me to turn on him. Gammarino deserves a world of credit for creating a character whose humanity is never eclipsed by his moronic behavior.Brain's insatiable desire to do and be something more than the anxious, insecure, angry boy that he is leads him to a life of debauchery. He gluts himself on sex until the activity becomes toxic; a mechanical act that he no longer enjoys but can't bring himself to stop. At it's core "Big in Japan" isn't just a coming-of-age story. It isn't just about sex or sexism or fetishism. It's about learning to balance the desires of the body with those of the heart. Gammarino's writing is strong and evocative. Normally, I'm a serial reader. I finish one book and dive straight into another. I couldn't do that with Big in Japan. I had to take two days to emotionally process the story before I could bring myself to start a new book, that's how much it got to me.
KilroyWasHere on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This novel is not for the weak of heart. Man oh man, this novel is not for the weak of heart.I mean, this is a powerful work. Brain Tedesco, the Philadelphia-born, psychology-trained, disturbed genius protagonist, drives the story (which I'll try to avoid spoiling, since its unveiling is one of Big in Japan's chief pleasures), and his evolution is constant enough to be continually entertaining while remaining credible. The supporting characters are generally described just enough to seem like real people--save for Miho, whose undercharacterization you could argue was intentional--and there are some really choice lines and dialogue. Gammarino is a real stickler for detail, too, both about the things that are central to the work (e.g. Japan) and the things that aren't (linguistics, the private space industry). As someone who, oddly enough, has a vested interest in all three, I really appreciated the effort.Still, though, after finishing this I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. The over-the-top passages--which you'll know when you come to them, trust me--certainly befit the main character, but they still left me somewhere between frustrated and disgusted. There are a few cutesy sections, like the ghost references (a bit too disjointed, to me, to be thematic) and a "big in Japan" pun that you see coming for half the book. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there's the ending, which I just plain didn't like.Just because I don't like an ending, though, doesn't mean it can't be a good ending. If you're looking for a coming-of-age tale that's modernist without being inherently pretentious, and you have the ability to take a lot of crap, you should certainly consider giving Big in Japan a try.
cao9415 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A band that believes itself to be much bigger in Japan than at home embarks upon a tour of that country. But this novel is much more than a tale of a rock band finding success abroad (it doesn't); its closer to a coming of age story, of love with a sex worker, of the battle inside man between wants and needs, desires and love. Sometimes tough to read, but ultimately rewarding.
ungratefulwench on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Although the pacing of this kept me reading until the end, the narrative voice was far from engaging. The main character, Brain, spends most of the book wallowing in self-indulgent self-pity. Several scenes seem to have been included for shock value and, for me, massively detracted from the personal journey we're supposed to be taking alongside Brain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago