Amazon synopsis:

“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

What I like about Ruth Ozeki’s books are the unusual themes she pursues. Her first novel A Year of Meats made a huge impression on me, as did this book.

The story is multi-faceted covering very different strands e.g. a Japanese kamikazi pilot ‘s life & letters, WWII; the dilemma of Schrodinger’s cat which takes us into the Quantum world.; the whereabouts and identity of Nao the schoolgirl diarist; the narrator’s life on a small island off the coast of BC,. Canada; how Island life demands self-sufficiency and a willingness to deal with the unpredictable, and dangerous.
The sections I enjoyed most were those about Nao’s great grandmother , Jiko, a Buddhist nun. We hear Jiko’s story, and details of her life in a tiny traditional Zen temple, in modern times. Old Jiko used to tell Nao: only now. In other words: stay focussed on the present moment. Jiko also said: Up/down, down/up, all the same. A challenging statement for modern Western readers.
The book is rich in detail and characters, themes and ideas. I will definitely re-read it in a year or two. If you’re looking for an unusual, engrossing read, then this book will not disappoint.


GOLDEN DELICIOUS – Christopher Boucher




I’m rating the book as a 5 star read, without hesitation. Where I am hesitating, is trying to frame a review of the contents. Why? you ask; you read the book didn’t you? Yes, I did, saucer-eyed and jaw droppingly speedily.

The dazzlingly original, wildly inventive contents knocked me sideways. I can commit to saying it is the story of a boy (nameless, he’s never named but always referred to as : ———- in the text) growing up in a regular family of Dad, Mom and sister in America. So far so good. Uh-huh: what’s so extraordinary about that? You’re probably thinking.

What I wrote about the narrator’s family circumstances is just about the ONLY regular ingredient in the tale. The wild, wacky craziness is in the setting , the life style, the society. I’m not even going to try to describe it. I couldn’t, without sounding crazy. This is a book you have to read for yourself.

I can confidently assert that you have never, in your wildest dreams, read a book like Golden Delicious. Unless you read Christopher Boucher’s acclaimed first novel How to Take Care of your Volkswagen. Another excursion into the altered universe of Boucher’s imagination and talent.

Read Golden Delicious . You’ll never look at life – or books and words – the same way again. Do not miss this book. P.S. Plant more trees, especially apple trees.

BIRD BY BIRD – Anne Lamott.


Finally I get to read Anne Lamott’s book on writing and writers’ lives. I’ve waited a couple of years to read it, and the wait was worth it.

The book title always intrigued me : Bird by Bird. It seemed an odd choice for a work sub-titled Some Instruction on Writing and Life. The back book jacket explains the title’s source:
Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the timne, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. (It) was due the next day. We were Out at our family cabin in Bolinas and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
Anne Lamott took her Dad’s advice to heart, and uses his technique in her own writing and teaches it in workshops. I read the book as if it were a novel, over the course of a day. I couldn’t stop reading, laughing and making mental notes along the way. Sorry, no notes on index cards to capture her gems. I should explain : AL uses index cards to capture fleeting events/thoughts/moments during her daily life, on the run as it were. But I’ll be back for a detailed re-read and note taking a little later.

Lamott is a strong advocate for the discipline of sticking to a period of daily writing, and starts her writing day at 0900. She sits down and writes. And that, people, is how she became an acclaimed American woman writing coach, journalist and author. You sit down, and you write. Perfectly simple.

I learned some useful new approaches to writing; for example her idea of short assignments, the acceptability – maybe I should have written inevitability ? – of terrible first drafts, the cultivation of child-like wonder (oh wow! Look at that!) in our lives as an aid to appreciating life and reflecting the wonder in our own writing. She boldly gives us an unvarnished account of her emotional roller-coaster life during the writing and publishing process. She’s certainly made me view the glory of publication in a very different light! Is it really the Holy Grail it’s supposed to be? I wonder. The process sounds more painful than pleasurable.


Highly recommended for aspirant writers and also for anyone who wants to live a vital, connected life.