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Tokyo Suckerpunch: A Billy Chaka Adventure
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Tokyo Suckerpunch: A Billy Chaka Adventure

by Isaac Adamson
 

Meet Billy Chaka, ace reporter for Cleveland's hottest-selling Asian teen magazine.  He's brash, savvy, and prone to hair-trigger fits of karate.  Billy's in Tokyo to cover the 19-and-Under Handicapped Martial Arts Championship and meet up with his friend Sato Migusion, the international renowned director of such cult film classics as Sex Up the Hotrod

Overview

Meet Billy Chaka, ace reporter for Cleveland's hottest-selling Asian teen magazine.  He's brash, savvy, and prone to hair-trigger fits of karate.  Billy's in Tokyo to cover the 19-and-Under Handicapped Martial Arts Championship and meet up with his friend Sato Migusion, the international renowned director of such cult film classics as Sex Up the Hotrod, Baby! But Sato never shows. Instead, the girl of Billy's dreams stumbles into a dive bar with tatooed Yakuza mobsters in hot pursuit.  Then Billy will start brawls in swanky corporate sex clubs, be offered a golf club membership by a secret religious order, meet a dog trained in the ways of the Samurai, and race stolen motorcycles through the neon-choked streets of Tokyo. Packed with enough over-the-top fists action to make Jackie Chan cry, and featuring the most lovable uncool hero since Austin Powers, this hilarious send-up is a pop culture potpourri of sub-epic proportion.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This pop romp through the Tokyo of martial arts, yakuza and legendary geishas has more sly smarts than a Hong Kong gangster shoot-'em-up. First-time novelist Adamson hooks the reader with fast action, clever dialogue and all-over atmosphere, while complicating the plot mightily and implausibly. Billy Chaka is a popular columnist for the Cleveland mag Youth in Asia. He's come to Tokyo to cover the 19 and Under Handicapped International Martial Arts Championship. While Chaka is waiting in a bar for the arrival of his old friend filmmaker Sato Migusho, an apparently drunken woman enters and rushes for the ladies' room. Immediately recognizing her as a geisha in disguise, on the lam from disgruntled clients, Chaka--who has a weakness for geishas--helps her escape and handles the tough guys with some dandy kickboxing moves. After Chaka learns that Sato has died in a seemingly accidental fire at his secret luxury hideout, the Garden of Earthly Delights, he ducks his reporterly duties and sets out to find the geisha. While on this quest, underwritten by a yakuza leader named Kwaidan and an unnamed religious cult, Chaka keeps stumbling over imponderables in the Sato case, including the news that Sato was about to film an unauthorized version of Chaka's own life, entitled Tokyo Suckerpunch. This novel is all speed and no depth, but that's forgivable in a narration that detours around such marvelous (and doubtful) Japanese pop esoterica as current fashions in Japanese motorcycle gangs and the tape-recorded politesse of Japanese vending machines. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Billy Chaka is not only a martial arts expert and star Asian teen journalist but also the wisecracking and surprisingly introspective protagonist of this pop culture-infused first novel. While on assignment in Japan, Billy learns that his filmmaker friend Sato Migusho has died when his house burned down. Suspecting foul play, he sets out on an adventure that will entangle him with Japanese gangsters, a secret religious cult, and a mysterious geisha, who becomes the object of his obsession. Strangely enough, Adamson's solidly written debut manages to live up to its name to a certain extent, delivering unexpected moments of poignancy, genuine comedy, and witty observation. Yet despite the main character's endearing nature, the novel falls victim to a plot that is both poorly conceived and somewhat predictable. It is also possible that Billy's immature antics and sarcastic sensibility will appeal only to an audience of a certain age, i.e., teenagers and college students. Recommended only for public and academic libraries with large fiction collections. "Library Journal" Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380812912
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/28/2000
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,319,404
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.76(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I'm hardwired for geisha. I don't know how it started or what it says about me psychologically and all that jazz--I just know I'm obsessed and have been for as long as I can remember. Over the years, geisha have been my motivation for acts heroic, embarassing, and often criminal. This time, I'd been in Japan less than three hours when trouble started.

I was in Tokyo covering the Nineteen and Under Handicapped International Martial Arts Championship for Youth in Asia, Cleveland's hottest-selling and most respected Asian teen rag. I was feeling a little blue without the company of Sarah, my young assistant. She was back in the States getting another tooth pulled, which is what she always does when she doesn't want to accompany me to Japan.

On top of that, it looked like Sato Migusho wasn't going to show. Sato was an old friend of mine, and one of the most famous directors in the history of Japanese cinema. He'd made over forty films in his life, almost one a year since he began his career at the age of twenty. When I'd made this lunch date with him, he told me he had just gotten back from scouting locations for his next film, but he wouldn't tell me what it was about. All he'd say was that he was very excited about it, but then he was always excited about his next film. Unfortunately, audiences didn't always share his enthusiasm.

You couldn't blame them given the bombs he'd turned out lately.

He was supposed to meet me at a fisherman's bar on Dogenzaka--dori called the Purple Dragnet. No actual fishermen hung out there, as it was nowhere near water. But the walls were adorned with starfish and stuffed marlins and even adead dolphin-so I guess that made it a fisherman's bar. I passed the time drinking a very rare sake that made even most high-grade tokkyu sakes taste like dishwater. I forget the name of it, but it translated as something like "fortieth heavy sheep," which meant roughly the same thing as "the last straw" in English. It used to be served to kamikaze pilots on the eve of their suicidal missions, and there were said to be fewer than seventeen bottles remaining in the whole world. Actually, there were probably only fifteen now. I had polished off two bottles in the last hour. After drinking the stuff, I felt ready to smash a plane into the side of a boat, too.

"Sorry, Chaka-sama. That is the last of the special reserve," said Hiro Bhuto sheepishly. Hiro Bhuto was the bartender. He felt eternally indebted to me because I had saved his brother from a probable prison term by writing a brilliant--if wordy by Japanese standards--plea to the state to drop the charges when the guy got mixed up in an exercise video pirating ring. I argued that his only crime was making it possible for the poor to have leaner thighs and tighter abs. He got a full pardon and often used my defense of his character as a letter of introduction.

"That's okay, Hiro," I said with a smile. "Looks like my lunchmate isn't gonna show."

I felt a little guilty about taking advantage of Hiro's hospitality and sense of gratitude. He'd been saving that wine since 1945, and selling just one of those bottles could have put all three of his kids through cram school.

"Say, Hiro, how's the missus?" I inquired. Perhaps it was a little rude, but you can get away with being rude if you're American. It's expected. In fact, sometimes it's deemed impolite for an American not to treat his Japanese host with the proper degree of disrespect.

"Things could be better," Hiro said while he studied the ground. From the many years I'd spent carefully observing Japanese body language and colloquial euphemisms, this could only mean one thing. Hiro Bhuto's wife had kicked him out of their bed.

"Say no more, Bhuto old buddy. Give me a beer, a brush, and some scrolls."

He beamed gratitude as he ambled toward the back office behind the bar. By the time he returned with my supplies, I'd already composed a deeply moving, somewhat lyrical love poem--exultant, but with a hint of sadness at the ephemeral nature of the world.

I took a sip of beer, then quickly wrote the poem in expert strokes. When I finished, I handed the scroll to Bhuto.

Bhuto unrolled the scroll and began to read. I carefully studied his face. At first he was skeptical, but the words didn't take long to work their magic. As he read, I could see the emotions rise to the surface. His initial placidity blossomed into a look of near-religious fervor. Toward the end of the poem, the part where I got a little corny, his eyes seemed to burn right into themselves for a moment as he let out a tiny, almost inaudible gasp.

Then his face went cold. He looked up at me, puzzled. Then back down at the scroll, and up at me again.

"You called my wife a donkey?"

I yanked the scroll away from him. There it was--donkey. I had no idea what character I'd been trying to write, but I suspected the sake had taken over. Come to think of it, Bhuto's wife did look a little donkeyesque, though. But this was no time for that kind of honesty.

I grabbed the brush and amended the poem with a quick series of wild strokes. After the flurry, I handed the scroll back to Bhuto.

"'Seraph,'" he read aloud. "Much better."

While Bhuto went on reading, I downed my beer. When he finally finished, his look was one of deep quietude--such a look as is only seen on monks with decades of no-mind or on regular readers of my column in Youth in Asia.

"What's the verdict?" I asked.

"Chaka-sama," he replied, trying to choke back his tears. "It is so perfect, so beautiful. My wife ... she will never believe I am capable of such... such sentiments."

"Nonsense." I handed him the brush. "Just give it your seal." I nodded encouragingly, so he put his signature on it, then quickly rolled the scrolls and whisked them away to the office, as if afraid I would change my mind. He came back to the bar and bowed very deeply, the type of bow usually reserved for great-great-grandfathers.

Tokyo Suckerpunch. Copyright © by Isaac Adamson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Isaac Adamson was born in Fort Collins, CO, during the Year of the Pig. He plays soccer well, guitar poorly, and is currenly living in Chicago.

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