Feeling Minnesota: Chris Cornell RIP

I can’t even being to process this. Soundgarden were there from the start, when my brain consciously began engaging with music. There was Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog and Pearl Jam and… anyone who knows me knows I’m still in that bubble.

Chris Cornell is dead.

At 52.


My feed is full of Chris Cornell. I can’t even begin to process this. But for the first time since the internet was invented, my feed is full of Chris Cornell. Nothing else, just Cornell. That his death had to be the cause is devastating.

We should share the work of our heroes daily, fill our feeds with the joy their creativity brings us, not drown ourselves in misery and negativity and relentless reminders of the dark side of humanity. Celebrate those whose contribution has made a difference to your life. Tell them, tell others, before it’s too late.

Don’t share things that make you angry, things that make you curse, things that make you bang your head on the desk. Share the things that make you rise up, out of your chair, and dance around the room. Share the things that make being alive, here and now, fantastic. Share the joy. Because there is joy out there. Lots of it. Oodles of it. And we all know it, because when it’s ripped from our hearts, like it was from mine today, we know in an instant what we’ve lost. What we’ll never get back.

RIP Chris Cornell. You made my life better and I never got to thank you for that.

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Japanese History

Well it’s all been go of late, starting a new job and joining a band (rhythm guitarist, first gig on Saturday). But I’ve also been keeping up with the writing (though not as much as I’d like). My latest piece for Gaijinpot, an article on Japanese history books, is online now.  Also this long-form review of a history of Okinawa. More news as it comes.

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Haiku Interview


I was recently interviewed about my poetry collection, Fractures, and you can read all about it here. Also newly up is the second chapter in my The Only Gaijin in the Village column, which you can read here. How great is the art Justine Wong did for the column?

Hope all is perfect in your world. It’s pretty hectic here but all in the best possible taste.

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Japanese Settings, International Themes


Looking for a good book? The second in my new series of articles looking at Japanese literature focuses on novels set in the country but written by non-Japanese writers. Featuring famous names like David Mitchell, Kazuo Ishiguro and David Peace, and lesser-known but equally talented authors Jackie Copleton, Nicholas Hogg and J. David Simons, there’s a lot of good reading in there.

Also newly up is my review of Michael J. Green’s By More than Providence, and exploration of US diplomacy in Asia-Pacific.

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Fractures Review, Northwords Now


I was delighted to see this review of Fractures in this weekend’s Japan Times. Copies are still available through the Tapsalteerie website, so if you haven’t got your yet, get on it!

I’ve also got a short story, Leftovers, in the new issue of Northwords Now which is free to pick up if you’re in Scotland or you can read it online here.

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The Only Gaijin in the Village

Watercolor landscape

Another update. It’s all go here at the moment as I close down the business I’ve been running for nearly eight years and take up a university teaching post, but I’ve found time for some reviews and to start a new column, The Only Gaijin in the Village, about moving to rural Japan. The picture above is taken from the website.

In the Japan Times I’ve looked at a biography of the poet Teika, the classic Kappa by Akutagawa and the first in a new crime series, Blue Light Yokohama.

Issue 7 of Shoreline of Infinity is also out now, for all your science fiction needs. As Article 50 is triggered, perhaps it’s time to escape to another planet.

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Adventures in Criticism


Another update post. I’ve been busy on the journalism and criticism front recently (a side-effect of publishers front-loading spring releases).

In the Japan Times I’ve reviewed Japanese classics A Dark Night’s Passing by Naoya Shiga and The River Ki by Sawako Ariyoshi, as well as the newly released and utterly stunning Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.

On Shoreline of Infinity, as we gear up for the release of Issue 7, I’ve been looking at The Dancer by Rab Ferguson, The Speckled God by Marc Joan and The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

I’ve also recently been taken on as a columnist for Gaijinpot, an English language website in Japan. I will be writing two columns, each monthly. The first is about Japanese literature  and I intend it to be more of an overview than my Japan Times reviews, aimed at putting books and writers in context and helping those new to Japanese literature seek out new reading material. The first one introduces 8 Contemporary Novelists (That Aren’t Haruki Murakami). More about the second column when it goes live.


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