First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
A woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that requires no reading, no writing, and ideally, very little thinking.
She is sent to a nondescript office building and tasked with watching the hidden-camera feed of an author suspected of storing contraband goods. But watching someone for hours isn’t as easy as it sounds. How will she stay awake? When can she take delivery of her favourite brand of tea? And, perhaps, more importantly – how did she find herself in this situation in the first place?
As she moves from job to job, writing adverts for shops that mysteriously disappear and composing advice for rice cracker wrappers that generate thousands of devoted followers, it becomes increasingly apparent that she’s not searching for the easiest job at all, but something altogether more meaningful…
Yay! We managed to survive yet another tough week at the office (unless you are working from home like me but nevertheless). In light of the pandemic that is still raging on, it has been a challenge to present one’s self to work. Most of us have learned to adapt to the so-called “new normal” but it is not bereft of its own challenges. Nevertheless, I am hoping that you are all doing well despite the challenging and uncertain times. For getting through the week, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. I hope you take the weekend to rest and recuperate. I hope and pray for everyone’s wellbeing, for everyone’s healing. With this, I am also one with the entire world in praying that this pandemic will end soon.
But as the weekend peeks over the horizon, let me first give a First Impression Friday. It has become a weekly tradition. As mentioned in my latest WWW Wednesday update, I have opted to pivot towards Asia after spending approximately seven weeks travelling (metaphorically of course) all over Latin America and the Caribbean in search of the best works from the region. However, I am not travelling all over Asia the way I did last April. Rather, I am turning focus to Japanese literature, which, over the past few years, has become some sort of my own comfort zone. I have already completed two short novels by Haruki Murakami so I have decided to read the work of an unfamiliar writer.
Earlier this year, while browsing through the bookshelves of my favorite local bookstore, one particular book caught my attention because of its subtle but flashy book cover. Kikuko Tsumura’s There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job won me over with its title. I just knew I have to buy and read it. A couple of months later, it is now part of my immersion into Japanese literature. Before opening the pages of the book, I was hoping that the book is one that I could easily relate to, having been a “corporate slave for nearly a decade”. With this at the back of my mind, I started my new venture.
I haven’t read that much actually but I was already acquainted with the primary narrator. I was thrown into the middle of the narrative that I did not notice that the primary narrator was anonymous. I only realized it after checking on the synopsis. But being situated in the heat of the action without much of a context or background is a facet the novel shares with pretty much most works of Japanese literature. Without much of a preamble, the reader immerses immediately into the story. I am used to it by now I guess as Japanese writers have also proven themselves master of the slice-of-life genre. One doesn’t have to look far and wide for more examples as the manga is a fine example of this.
There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job is the story of a young woman who found herself in a new job. She quit her previous job because of burnout (yes, this is something many of us “corporate slaves” can relate to). After moving back to her parent’s house, she soon realized that not having a job to sustain her is also not a great option. After walking into an employment agency, she was directed to an unassuming building. Her new job had everything that she required – it didn’t require reading, writing, or much thinking. What she had to do was simple: observe the hidden camera footages of a man suspected of keeping a contraband. This man is a novelist who has a library of DVDs and spends most of his days watching or writing, waiting, I guess, for inspiration to seize him.
With this much information, my mind is starting to meander, guessing which direction the story is going to take. My mind is playing with ideas. In one of images that came to my mind, the young woman falls in love with the man she was observing. It is within the realms of possibilities after all. The second is that the young woman takes things in her own hands and stealthily sneaks into the author’s house to search for the contraband. Or maybe, in observing the quotidian life of the observed, she reflects on her life as she begins to see several parallels. There are a lot of permutations and with nearly 400 pages to go, it can be one of many things. We’ll see. I am excited to read how the story is going to develop.
The book is accessible, pleasurable to read and I just might be able to finish it in no time. Not over the weekend but before the month ends, I hope. How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend