I wrote me these suckers, too.
|Fun fact: I'm still continent!
|October 7, 2015
The Book-Launch is Dark and Full of Terrors
Well, as you can see, I have just launched a new paperback book, my fourth overall, called Springtime in Nangaku: Further Adventures with Japanese Chicks. It marks my return to the subject of my interactions with young Japanese women, the subject of my 2005 debut How To Pick Up Japanese Chicks And Doom Your Immortal Soul. Because, you know, the first book left so many unanswered questions.
Here is where your typical self-publishing author would start telling you
of all the sensual delights and insights packed between the book’s shimmering
covers, but I find myself not much in the mood to extol my wares. Instead
I’m in a sickly state of mind, a terrified state of mind, a naked-fetal-position-under-the-basement-stairs
state of mind.
And now that I’ve got your mouth watering for this book, here’s the spoiler
alert: The only actual sex acts described in Springtime in Nangaku are the well documented ones of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
In the parts that are purely memoir, the sexual content consists mainly
of excerpts from my journal in which I enumerate the hypothetical activities
I would like to engage in with specified female Nangaku students. (Double
spoiler alert: More often than not, it’s either fellatio or a topless handjob.)
My physical descriptions of these students tend to make much of their breasts
and/or buttocks. And I never pass up a chance to describe an instance when
a Nangaku woman accidently brushes against me with a protuberant boob,
such as when posing for a photo together, etc. On numerous occasions, I
mention kissing a Nangaku student at her request on the cheek or hand to
celebrate her birthday or receiving a similar kiss to celebrate mine.
My best estimate is that all of the above “sexual” content, including the ex-president’s, constitutes about two percent of the book.
The problem is, needless to say, the fact that I have all these interactions
while being a white male in his late thirties to forties, and have them
with nonwhite females, some as young as eighteen. Throw in the fact that
nearly all the interactions occurred while the females were undergraduates
at a university where I was a teacher, and the whole book pretty much amounts
to my slappng a Kick Me sign on my backside and taking a long, slow perp
walk past the whole Internet. Ergo, the aforementioned sense of dread.
To some extent I cycle through these emotions with every book launch, as I suppose most authors do, but it’s different with this one, it being so very deeply personal and honest, and dealing with people who I still hold very dear despite no longer seeing them.
Of course, all that was equally true of that first book, and I plummeted
into the same depressive depths in the months following its launch even
though the worst that befell me then was a few snippy Amazon reviews.
So you would think I’d be used to this drill by now, especially given that
the intervening ten years have diluted some of the terrors I experienced
in 2005. I’m nearing retirement from my day job, for one thing, so the
loss of income wouldn’t kill me now. And my mother has passed away, thereby
greatly lessening the pain that would accompany ostracization from family.
But these factors are more than offset by such terrifying and uncontrollable new forces as Twitter Mobs and the infantilization of Western university students. In the Great Satan these days, a faculty member’s harboring a sexual interest in some of the undergraduates, even in the privacy of his own thoughts, is now a death-penalty offense. Ten years ago, it was just a Tuesday.
They say it helps one work through troubling emotions if you can deconstruct them and analyze the pieces, and since I don’t have any better ideas this weekend, let’s do that.
Threat 1: Twitter Mob → Unemployment
Odds: Low to Moderate
“Twitter mob” was not a concern back in 2005, and was not a thing I had
pondered at all until reading Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed earlier this year, which I found far more unsettling than anything I’ve
ever read by Stephen King—or even by Steve King.
It seems there was this woman who tweeted an unfunny but essentially harmless
joke while flying to Africa and then found she had become the most reviled
person on earth by the time she landed. The mob encouraged its members
to lay low for the woman—not a celebrity nor someone aspiring to be one—at
the airport upon her arrival, and someone actually did. After the mob put
pressure on her employer, she lost her job—as did other mob targets cited
in the book.
Nefarious wussie though I am, I suppose I could weather some vitriol on
Twitter, which I never look at. (I set up an account solely to block someone
else from abusing my name—my “brand,” if I dare deploy a Trumpism—as this
has actually happened to me on YouTube.) And, as noted above, even job
loss wouldn’t be all that awful. What alarms me is the prospect of this
invasion of personal space.
I suppose some would find it poetic justice for me to have my space invaded,
after all the stories I’ve told about people and emails I’ve excerpted
without permission. But I don’t think anyone can cite an invasive practice
on my part that quite compares with hunting a human through an airport.
Threat 2: Someone recognizes herself in the book and doesn’t like it
Given the contortionist measures I take to protect identities — fake-naming
nearly everyone and every place, fake-naming myself, changing identifying
characteristics, publishing only in English* and, above all, being an extremely obscure and unpopular author—I think
there is little danger of this. Nor am I especially worried about a lawsuit
of the sort that the nitwit Burroughs brought upon himself, given how adoringly
I write about nearly everyone in this book.
The scariness comes from the prospect of knowing that I had hurt the feelings of a former NU girl. That would actually get me dusting off the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy and perhaps making my quietus.
Threat 3: Confirmation of the suspicion that I’m not a very good writer
Odds: Moderate to high
Just as in my younger days I was one of the world’s leading authorities on the quality of girls’ Dear John letters, I now regard myself as a connoisseur of negative reviews.
They seem to come in two flavors:
(1) The reader enraged by a particular comment or incident or my general
tone, who writes like John Boehner in the throes of a crying jag. (These
are common and easily shrugged off.)
(2) The thoughtful reader who marshals his arguments to take issue with
my writerly merits. These are the ones that make me feel like John Boehner in the throes of a crying jag, except that Boehner
usually pulls himself together in an hour or so while I can go on for weeks.
Don’t you just hate people like that? People smarter than oneself, I mean…
Threat 4: General creep-shaming
I hesitate to use the term “creep-shaming” as it is fraught with associations to the so-called “men’s rights” movement, and I’d rather be associated with George Zimmerman’s defense team or the recent Fantastic Four movie than with that lot. I suppose “creep-sniping” is more accurate, anyway.
I’m probably giving myself too much credit to suppose that I’m worthy of my very own full-blown Twitter mob. But sniping Amazon reviews and disdainful comments on social media and private blogs are practically inevitable given my chosen theme. Last time out, I was called…well, never mind what I was called.
Just in case I haven’t made myself clear in the course of approximately 350,000 published words over the last decade, my dream is not a world where aging white guys can prey upon Asian minors with impunity. My dream is a world in which adults of all ages and genders and races can consider other adults as potential romantic partners, regardless of age and without fear of shaming.
It’s a world in which, after Bill Clinton suffers his fatal coronary atop
an intern atop a White House billiard table, President H.R. Clinton can
feel free to take up with a sweat-streaked immigrant White House gardener
one-third her age without suffering the cluck of a single tongue. I want
to buy a round of polyamory for anyone who wants it and who has gained
the understanding of their primary partner. My dream world has no room
in it for anyone who uses coercion of any sort to achieve sexual goals.
You may say I’m a dreamer, as the song goes, but I’m not the only one.
Then again, looking at the sales ranking, maybe I am.
|* With HTPUJCADYIS, I actually received, via an agent, an offer from a well-known Japanese publishing house seeking to bring out a Japanese edition. It remains to this day the only real, solid chance for published legitimacy that has come my way—and I had to turn it down.