This is the world's first "haiku novel"--a haiku-peppered work of fiction. It's the story of Buck-Teeth, a provincial poet and fictitious student of Issa ("Cup-of-Tea"), who in the course of his training travels to old Edo and contemporary New Orleans, falls in and out of love, considers the many schools of haiku, and ultimately learns what it means to be a poet.
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About the Author
David G. Lanoue is a professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana. He is a cofounder of the New Orleans Haiku Society and an associate member of the Haiku Foundation. His books include a translation (Cup-of-Tea Poems; Selected Haiku of Kobayashi Issa), criticism (Pure Land Haiku: The Art of Priest Issa), and a series of "haiku novels": Haiku Guy, Laughing Buddha, Haiku Wars and Frog Poet. Some of his books have appeared in French, German, Spanish, Bulgarian, Serbian and Japanese editions. He maintains The Haiku of Kobayashi Issa website, for which he translated 10,000 of Issa’s haiku.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Haiku Guy based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
A tremendous read. Like many of David Lanoue's haiku, his novel about "Haiku Guy" is a simple story with a lot of hidden text under the surface. You don't need to catch all the subtext or know the details of Buddhism to enjoy the book, but it's even more fun when you do. I recommend this book very highly and I'd suggest you savor it rather than devour it quickly.
I enjoyed this book immensely. It has a very "light" feel, but it also has substance. I like the mix of humor and pathos, but most of all I love the spirit of fun and invention and creativity. It's infectious and inspiring. And I learned some more about haiku. The less said about the plot the better, as the joy of discovery is surely one of the main reasons to read this book yourself.
There is so much to say about this book - its multidimensions ... the interplay of the writer with the characters, and with the reader; just WHO the writer is - writer, student, mentor, seeker, guide; the incarnations of the characters; the shifting time frames with theme preserved throughout; the part the reader takes on quite inadvertently just because s/he is reading it ... it's wonderful. I can't say enough. But I CAN highly recommend this book and encourage you to buy it and read it now, and again, and again. You won't want to put it down, I guarantee you! I am anxious to read more of Dr. Lanoue's thoughtful and entertaining writing - future books? I hope so!
Only a true believer in the positive addictions of haiku writing, reading and being, and an ardent student of haiku literature and its most popular philosophic and aesthetic landscapes, legends, lore, and personalities, could write such droll entertainment as found in this first short novel by David G. Lanoue. What we have here is a kind of paean to the realities and mythologies of haiku, set in a wind-blown, temporary world where time and lastingness are without meaning and one-breath is the duration of human wisdom. The protagonist of this tale can be viewed as the literary tradition of haiku itself, and its uncanny survival generation to generation, age to age, even country to country, culture to culture, language to language -- in a world peopled by fools who move from mystery to mystery in ardent pursuit and need of haiku's redeeming, simple cogence. It is the nature, spirit and character of the haiku poem that this novel reveals; the text is replete with over sixty fine examples. The people are just passing through, but in their passing they play their brief, essential roles as revelators. Plot? There is none -- not exactly a plot, anyway. Actions and events are spontaneous, neither predictable nor linear. The novel flows like time-consciousness flows. Past, present, and future intermingle in a joyful, convincing chaos that creates its own inevitable order and comfortable familiarity. Lanoue thrusts his characters into a Buddha-dream world of random events and meetings, misdirection, hopeless desire and grasping, at the center of which we find the great poet Cup-of-Tea (Kobayashi Issa) in his later years, living in Kashiwabara village. Seeking the Master's guidance comes the clueless and desperate wannabe village poet, Buck-Teeth. Out of their meeting Lanoue weaves a narrative fabric colored by Old Japan and haiku's literary history, real and imagined, with new threads added from the bars, cafes and shrines of New Orleans' dingy and holy Bourbon Street. Here is a tale that conveys with memorable force a comic vision of the creative process. Michael McClintock