Motions and Moments is the third book by Michael Pronko on the fluid feel and vibrant confusions of Tokyo life. These 42 new essays burrow into the unique intensities that suffuse the city and ponder what they mean to its millions of inhabitants.
Based on Pronko’s 18 years living, teaching and writing in Tokyo, these essays on how Tokyoites work, dress, commute, eat and sleep are steeped in insights into the city’s odd structures, intricate pleasures and engaging undertow.
Included are essays on living to size and loving the crowd, on Tokyo’s dizzying uncertainties and daily satisfactions, and on the 2011 earthquake. As in his first two books, this collection captures the ceaseless flow and passing flashes of life in biggest city in the world with gentle humor and rich detail.
“This book sparkles and succeeds as a love letter of sorts to Tokyo. The author’s writing is a joy to read, with wonderful phrasing and vivid descriptions…As someone who knows very little about Tokyo, I loved this book. As someone who appreciates good writing, I loved this book.” 4 out of 4 stars
This is a memoir to be savored like a fine red wine, crafted with supreme care by a man who clearly has fallen in love with his adopted city -- and we are the beneficiaries of his lyrical reflections, making us want to visit and absorb the rich megalopolis of Tokyo for ourselves.
Publishers Daily Reviews
Each essay is like a self-contained explanation of one facet of life in the context of a grander conversation, and each one is a complete work in its own right… almost like a fictional novel of short stories and vignettes rather than a collection of essays.
Ryan Jordan, Reader’s Favorite
With each new essay opening yet another window into life in this magnificent city, the book vividly captures the depth and beauty of Tokyo, bringing to life the city and the lifestyle.
Faridah Nassozi, Reader’s Favorite
Each of his essays brought me closer and closer to an appreciation of the complex and complicated place Tokyo is, and the lifestyles of those who call it home. His writing style is conversational and smooth, and I found that after finishing one essay I was eager to dive into the next one right away.
Jack Magnus, Reader’s Favorite
Praise for the first collection, Beauty and Chaos: Slices and Morsels of Tokyo Life:
"A clear-eyed but affectionate portrait of a city that reaches beyond simple stereotypes. An elegantly written, precisely observed portrait of a Japanese city and its culture." Kirkus Reviews
"Beauty and Chaos is a spectacular read. Its essays are long enough to be cohesive and provocative while remaining short and sweet. The collection is masterful and unique." Stephanie Chandler, SPR Review
“He notices the kinds of things that might be taken for granted by the Japanese and overlooked entirely by visitors.” Rebecca Foster, The Bookbag
Gold Award First Place for Cultural Non-Fiction (Reader's Favorite Awards 2015)
Gold Award (Non-Fiction Authors Association 2015)
Awards for the second collection, Tokyo’s Mystery Deepens: Essays on Tokyo:
Gold Award for Creative Non-Fiction (eLit Awards 2015)
Silver Award for Travel Essay (eLit Award 2015)
|Publisher:||Raked Gravel Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.55(d)|
Table of ContentsContents
Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo
Note on the Glossary
Intro and In
City of Eyes
Part I: Surfaces
Why Ask Me?
The Language Dance
Urban Speed Poetry
Don't Drop It!
Cell Screen Tokyo
Part II: Miniatures
Fitting Things In
Fitting Me In
Small Item Heaven
My Toe in Tokyo
What's in a Name?
Thousand Armed Kannons
Part III: Constructs
Construction and Resistance
The South Side Theory
Parting the Crowd
Ugliest City in the World?
The Summer Slowing
Part IV: Quaking
Are You OK? (March 18, 2011)
Shaken Up (June 20, 2011)
Earthquake Normal (October 2011)
Is This It? (April 2012)
That Was a Bad One (June 2015)
Part V: Serenities
Learning to Love the Crowd
Tokyo Comfort City
A Meal in the Hand
Tokyo's Traditional Pauses
Jazz in Tokyo
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
Hanami, and Just After
Arigato-s and Gozaimasu-ses
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Motions and Moments is a well-thought-out compilation of introspective ‘essays about Tokyo’ by Michael Pronko. The third in his series of musings toward Tokyo living is an interesting and captivating read. The book is laid out in logical fashion in that it takes the author on a journey of: ‘...first you take a step… then you take another...’ There are a total of five parts to the book beginning with “Surfaces.” In the opening part, Pronko focuses on the nuances and mannerisms of the inhabitants of Tokyo—millions of people co-habitating in miniscule space. He speaks of “The Language Dance” under the guise of how people can go “...for weeks without needing to converse with anyone. You can silently order, pay the bill, use an IC or credit card to slip in and out of stations, and get by at work or shopping with set polite phrases that involve no real thought...” In his next sentence he challenges his audience with the premise of Tokyo being the city of conversations. Part I of Mr. Pronko’s book is a terrific foundation that sets the tone to assuage the reader’s mindset in preparation for learning all there could possibly be to know about life in Tokyo. Each essay is succinct in that it doesn’t span more than 3-4 pages, yet by the end of each essay; one has a sense of reading a short story and enjoying the journey in so doing. There is a tone of absolute respect Mr. Pronko has for Tokyo and its natives. Later in the book, he devotes a section to the architecture and construction abound. It was interesting to read his comparisons between we westerners and our affinity with sprawl. Yet, in Tokyo, there is only so much real estate to spread out upon and the ‘fix’ Tokyo has mastered is to go up (versus out). Imagine! Getting lost in a city beneath its surface! Michael Pronko has an engaging tone through his writing. He is conversational as much as educational without boring his audience with too much lecture. It is no wonder he has hung his hat in this mystical place for fifteen years. His essays have a beautiful flow from one thought to the next and it was easy for me to settle into the journey of this body of work. He often uses the Japanese word (or words) for the subject he depicts and, in my opinion, this infuses greater credibility to the essays he has written. There is a subtle nuance that plays throughout this series of essays that piques a desire in the reader to visit this enchanted land. With such a large population on such a small island, it is abundantly clear harmony among its inhabitants is a must. Mr. Pronko depicts this time and again throughout this wonderful compilation of essays. Well done! Quill says: Motions and Moments is a terrific series of essays that captures the essence and allure of Tokyo with a lot of heart infused in the work.
42 essays capturing the life and the feel of the city, Tokyo. Motions and Moments: More Essays On Tokyo, written by Michael Pronko, centers around 42 essays focusing on the city of Tokyo, Japan. The essays delve into a variety of topics from the city’s architecture to the daily lives of the people living there, among other subjects. But at the risk of revealing too much about this book, I will say no more about that. Personally, I liked that Pronko brought 18 years of living in Tokyo, because that left the impression on me, as the reader, that this author truly had a grasp on the subject matter that he is exploring in Motions and Moments: More Essays On Tokyo. This book also provides this reader with an insight into Japanese culture. Overall, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars for the reasons above.
Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko is a delightful book for those that like to travel and those that are interested in Tokyo culture. The essays are well detailed, concise and clear. There are many subjects covered, from futons and t-shirt slogans to earthquakes and language. The essays afford an in depth look into the culture and life, all from the perspective of an American who started out as a tourist. This book certainly has made me feel like visiting now, sounds like a fantastic place. I would recommend this.
This is a delightful collection of essays on Japan. The author is very familiar with Japan and his writings give you an insightful look at another country. You can even see how the Japanese view other nations. What language do you speak? Some Japanese speak English very well while others prefer their native tongue. As an American you might be used by students for English practice. The essays cover varied topics including how much care is taken into their appearance. While a fascinating read because of my attention span it got a little slow from time to time. It is done well and very informative. We can certainly learn many things from other cultures.
‘Motions and Moments’ is the second time I had the opportunity and pleasure reading Michael Pronko’s essays on Tokyo. With ‘Beauty and Chaos’, his previous book I fully enjoyed, he managed to perfectly convey the spirit of this extraordinary Japanese megalopolis in a series of interesting, humorous and yet extremely educational essays. Or as Pronko said 'writing about Tokyo is like catching fish with a hollow gourd.' In this anthology, he presents us 42 new essays, proving that he is not only the insider who knows so much about Tokyo, but someone who loves this city. Michael Pronko is the kind of caring parent who emphasizes own child’s virtues and explain flaws. Michael Pronko has lived and wrote in and about Tokyo for fifteen years. Working as a professor at Meiji Gakuin University and teaching American literature, culture, film, music, and art, Pronko is a man that rightly, regardless of his origin, can be called insider. As he nicely wrote -fielding questions from his students about Jackson Pollock or Kurt Vonnegut and then wandering through Shinjuku's neon mayhem always puts ideas for writing into his head, while teaching also keeps him searching for the heart of life in the world's biggest city. In this collection some of the motives that particularly impressed me were changes Tokyo went through brought by Western society and the consequences to Japan of fatal earthquake back in 2011. Visiting Tokyo is something impossible to forget, regardless how experienced traveler you are. Therefore, as a man who grew up in different part of the world, Pronko manages to see things not so noticeable to locals, but also usually overlooked by Tokyo tourists. He succeeds taking reader to the places you did not read about in ads, providing a broader view of this extraordinary city. I will conclude this review as I did the previous - if you plan visiting Tokyo for the first time or know someone who plan to do that, I recommend reading both of Pronko’s anthologies, because that way Tokyo would be experienced in much deeper and personal manner. I was given a copy of this book by the author for the purpose of unbiased review, while all the presented information is based on my impressions.
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko is a book that throws light on Tokyo, Japan, Japanese culture and the country as the whole. Written in five parts as essays, the author covers the place extensively and expansively, giving readers interesting details about Tokyo and his time there. The 42 essays capture the vibrancy of the city and life there through the author's eyes, making it come alive. All the topics are engaging and will make readers look at Tokyo with a new perspective and ponder on the culture that defines the Japanese. It's a book for all those who are interested in knowing more about Tokyo, the Japanese, and their culture. The book touches upon many interesting facts, capturing the essence of the land beautifully. The idea of presenting these thoughts as essays is clever and readers don't get bored. The writing style is simple and crisp, making all the essays appealing. The glossary at the end of the collection is helpful for readers to comprehend any difficult words. The author's wanderings and musings on Tokyo will make readers want to travel to the city to savor and experience all that the author mentions during his time there. The author's words and experiences make it visual and get readers close to Tokyo and its uniqueness. The book will definitely help readers learn the finer details about the place. I enjoyed these essays. This book helps readers learn a lot more about Tokyo than what one usually gets to read.
Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko is a collection of essays that describe life in Tokyo. To be honest, this book actually cleared up some of my misconceptions about Tokyo and how people live in Tokyo. I thought people lived the high life, that they lived in the fast lane, and their lives are easier than most. After reading Michael Pronko’s essays, I realized how wrong I was. The people of Tokyo are not as different from us as we believe. Granted, they live in one of the most technologically developed cities, but they do have their own challenges. I found “A Meal in the Hand” very interesting. Imagine your work day, imagine how you are working through your lunch, and you quickly gobble down a bag of chips or Doritos. Well, in Tokyo, they eat onigiri, a much healthier snack. And for readers who might think that the fast-paced life in Tokyo has no place for religion, “Tokyo's Traditional Pauses” will tell them what religion is really like for the people of Tokyo. There was another essay in the book which describes the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. The essay talks about the gruesome effects of the earthquake and how it shook the city. This book is perfect for people who, like me, enjoy reading about different cities and their cultures. Tokyo is a passionate city and I am glad I read this book and now realize that. A well written and eloquent account of life in Tokyo. I really liked it.
Reviewed by Faridah Nassozi for Readers' Favorite Tokyo is not only the Japanese capital and largest city, but is also one of the world's most dynamic places. Probably one of its most fascinating attributes is how it has managed to go ultramodern without abandoning the beautiful traditions and ways of its people. Through his third book about Tokyo, titled Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo, Michael Pronko presents yet another amazing insight into this magnificent city and its lifestyle. From fashion, entertainment, food, nightlife, ultramodern facilities, or some good old-fashioned Japanese culture, Tokyo has got it all and Michael Pronko captures its blends perfectly. With each new essay opening yet another window into life in this magnificent city, the book vividly captures the depth and beauty of Tokyo, bringing to life the city and the lifestyle. Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko perfectly captures the surreal feel and allure of Tokyo. It is an unbiased in-depth view of Tokyo from someone who not only lives in the city but has formed a deep personal connection with it. By using his personal experiences to tell the story of one of the world's most dynamic cities, Michael Pronko put a human touch to the ever so vibrant scenery that is Tokyo. It is a perfect example of how to adopt the new without abandoning the old. The traditions bring a certain balance and serenity into the commotion and chaos of this ultramodern city and the two blend together impeccably; a feeling that is perfectly portrayed through Michael Pronko's narrations and descriptions. Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko is a captivating read that flawlessly captures the spirit of Tokyo.
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo is a collection of nonfiction travel essays written by Michael Pronko. The author, a professor of American literature, has been writing essays about this city for fifteen years, beginning in his capacity as a reviewer of jazz for an online magazine. He's since written some 200 essays on Tokyo's culture, food, nightlife, and just about anything he can think of, and yet he still finds more to write about. Hence these essays as he continues to discover that there's still so much more about this city that he's lived in for the last 18 years to enjoy and make his own. The essays in this collection range from the enjoyment of ramen noodles and onigiri and the intricacies of establishing a common conversational language in his everyday interactions, to the difference between loose and tight public body language that is so hard for non-Tokyoites to acquire; the verticality of Tokyo with its many layers and levels; and the mood of its denizens in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Michael Pronko's collection of nonfiction travel essays, Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo, is an extraordinary travel guide to a culture I had previously known next to nothing about. Each of his essays brought me closer and closer to an appreciation of the complex and complicated place Tokyo is, and the lifestyles of those who call it home. His writing style is conversational and smooth, and I found that after finishing one essay I was eager to dive into the next one right away. I particularly enjoyed his essays on Tokyo nightlife and the jazz clubs he frequents. There are lots of reasons why Pronko has made this city of crowds and concrete and hidden little shrines his home, and he shares so much of that affection and enthusiasm in each of these essays. This is the first of his collections of Tokyo essays that I've read, but it won't be the last. Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo is most highly recommended.
Reviewed by Ryan Jordan for Readers' Favorite Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko is a collection of essays about life in Tokyo, and particularly how it deviates from the life Western people might be used to in engaging with Eastern culture. Each essay is like a self-contained explanation of one facet of life in the context of a grander conversation, and each one is a complete work in its own right. They all flow very well together and contribute to the whole, some discussing behavior in Tokyo, or demeanor, or social norms, and how to interact effectively. All are told through the lens of one man and his interactions which gives it a narrative flow. This makes it almost feel like a fictional novel of short stories and vignettes rather than a collection of essays. Each of the essays has an interesting tidbit to share and the quality of them is quite impressive. A lot of similar works don't have the same conversational quality of this work where the author says a lot of interesting things and also sounds like he knows what he's talking about. It was easy to read and contained powerful messages that don't necessarily apply only to life in Tokyo, but pertain to life in general, and this elevates the work to new heights. Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko is a real winner and worth reading by anyone who is interested in conversational essays by a talented and experienced author.