Polite Lies: On being a Woman Caught Between Cultures-Kyoko Mori

  • Title: Polite Lies: On being a Woman Caught Between Cultures
  • Author: Kyoko Mori
  • Released: 1998-01-15
  • Language:
  • Pages: 272
  • ISBN: 080504079X
  • ISBN13: 978-0805040791
  • ASIN: 080504079X


Kyoko Mori spent a largely unhappy childhood chafing at social restrictions in Japan before migrating to the American Midwest. In 12 beautifully turned essays she shuttles between these two cultures, observing local customs with a wondering eye. Too bold to be emotionally fluent in either land, Mori scrutinizes--and sometimes ridicules--the sound of a woman's voice raised in a childish squeak; the differences between Americans who marry for love (and divorce the day it dissolves) and traditional Japanese women, who may be more likely to find happiness in an honorable widowhood; and the navigation of uncomfortable truths and painful emotions. "Having a conversation in Japanese is like driving in the dark without a headlight," she says. "Every moment, I am on the verge of hitting something and hurting myself or someone else, but I have no way of guessing where the dangers are." Despite frustration and puzzlement, Mori rarely swerves even to make her own limitations more palatable.

From Library Journal Creative writing professor Mori (Dream of Water, LJ 12/94) offers a poignant portrait of her dichotomous life: a childhood in Japan and an adulthood in the American Midwest. These 12 personal essays show the insight evident in Mori's previous works. "Polite lies" refers to the imbalance present in the two cultures and the resulting balance Mori establishes for herself and her readers with wit and warmth. Topics include family, secrets, the body, and tears. The distinction between the public and the private colors the double world that Mori speaks of so eloquently. Sacrificial deaths, tragic suicides?all these may be exalted in Japanese art and literature, yet the personal tragedy of Mori's mother's suicide was "shameful instead of glorious"?she was never to mention the event. This strong collection binds one woman's old country with her new one, repeating her impassioned desire not to be swept up in a lifetime of polite acquiescence as were the women of her youth.?Kay Meredith Dusheck, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. pdf
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