• Title: Through the Arc of the Rain Forest
  • Author: Karen Tei Yamashita
  • ISBN: 9780918273826
  • Page: 296
  • Format: Paperback
  • Through the Arc of the Rain Forest Through the Arc of the Rain Forest is a burlesque of comic strip adventures and apocalyptic portents that stretches familiar truths to their logical extreme in a future world that is just recognizable
    Through the Arc of the Rain Forest is a burlesque of comic strip adventures and apocalyptic portents that stretches familiar truths to their logical extreme in a future world that is just recognizable enough to be frightening In the Author s Note, Karen Tei Yamashita writes that her book is like a Brazilian soap opera called a novela the novela s story is completely chThrough the Arc of the Rain Forest is a burlesque of comic strip adventures and apocalyptic portents that stretches familiar truths to their logical extreme in a future world that is just recognizable enough to be frightening In the Author s Note, Karen Tei Yamashita writes that her book is like a Brazilian soap opera called a novela the novela s story is completely changeable according to the whims of the public psyche and approval, although most likely, the unhappy find happiness the bad are punished true love reigns a popular actor is saved from death an idyll striking innocence, boundless nostalgia and terrible ruthlessness The stage is a vast, mysterious field of impenetrable plastic in the Brazilian rain forest set against a backdrop of rampant environmental destruction, commercialization, poverty, and religious rapture Through the Arc of the Rainforest is narrated by a small satellite hovering permanently around the head of an innocent character named Kazumasa Through no fault of his own, Kazumasa seems to draw strange and significant people into his orbit and to find himself at the center of cataclysmic events that involve carrier pigeons, religious pilgrims, industrial espionage, magic feathers, big money, miracles, epidemics, true love, and the virtual end of the world This book is simultaneously entertaining and depressing, with all the rollicking pessimism you d expect of a good soap opera or a good political satire Kirsten Backstrom, 500 Great Books by Women

    One Reply to “Through the Arc of the Rain Forest”

    1. Bizarre, lucid writing. Reminds me of a mix between Murakami, Pynchon (specifically, "Gravity's Rainbow"), and a pit of Heller ("Catch 22"). Very interesting author as well. Born in Oakland of Japanese parents, she traveled to Brazil to study Japanese immigration, lived in Sao Paolo for 9 years, and now teaches at UC Santa Cruz. Yamashita describes the complication of human society, the replacement of natural joys and resources with artificial ones, and (most importantly) EVERYONE'S complicity i [...]

    2. When I started this novel, I probably would have given it four stars. The first fifty pages or so got me hooked pretty solid with the whole 'magic realism' bit. Not very often do I find characters with metaphysical traits having their twisting lives narrated by a ball which is a Japanese man's personal satellite. The magic, as it were, intrigued me, and the almost newspaper-ish style of narration allowed me to objectively follow the events as they unfolded with a ruthless realistic tint. But not [...]

    3. wow i wish all literature were like this. through the arc of the rain forest manages to fuse the comic and absurd with the horrifically real. funny that a book about pigeons, magical feathers, radio evangelism, a Japanese expat with a ball spinning six inches from his forehead, and other oddities should contain such sobering insights about the nature of capital(ism).

    4. Another powerful, important book. I wrote a nine-page essay on this novel so I won't try to even go into it here, but it's good and yes.

    5. Too many characters for my liking and too queer. I didn’t know what to think of it and was very confused by the end of it.

    6. This book wasn't really my thing. It's a fast read - like, really fast - and requires what people are starting to call "hyper-reading" to produce any meaning, which is precisely why I just didn't like it. Life moves too fast as it is. I savor stories that convey wisdom that comes from slowing down and diving deep into an idea. Though in fairness, you can't knock a novel for not doing something it is specifically not interested in doing.Just like I get annoyed with academic writers who unnecessar [...]

    7. I was given this book as a gift because someone told me they though that I'd like it.It was probably the fact that the author was Japanese and there were surrealistic elements. Like another, I really liked the beginning and was less sold on the middle.HoweverI kept with it and over all did enjoy the book. A decade or so later, I must say that I never forgot the book -- thought about it regularly as a matter of a fact -- and it proved eerily psychic (as well as insightful) regarding elements in o [...]

    8. re-read this sci-fi/satire/ethnic lit blend over the summer (3 years after having TA-ed for an asian diasporas course, in which this was taught), and finally fell in love. a perfect example of how, on closer re-readings, you can appreciate and love something in a way you couldn't the first brief time around. yamashita's imagination is staggering, her humor exploding with social critique, and her ideas about diaspora/nation/environmental destruction/modernity so fresh, so relevant to an age deali [...]

    9. A very enjoyable read. This book reminds me of those strange and meandering novels (like Tom Robbins) except with an environmental bent, but not with the heavy-laden activist tone of early Carl Hiaasen. It is a great book with several interweaving plots and quite a bit of magical realism. Some parts of it are laugh out loud funny. Yamashita is an interesting writer; while one of the protagonists is Japanese (and this takes place in the Japanese expatriate community in Brazil), this is not necess [...]

    10. This was another one of those books that I was required to read for my Contemporary American Fiction class, a book that I probably would never read of my own accord. That said, it is an absolutely wonderful read. "Through the Arc of the Rainforest" follows the lives of multiple people across the world who, through seemingly random events, have their lives cross one another. While the novel follows the theme of the "small world" that modern (1990s) society has created, it also questions the price [...]

    11. Many readers compare this book to a Haruki Murakami or Tom Robbins novel due to the surreal plot, eccentric characters and socio-cultural commentary. Although the story was quite imaginative, the actual writing and language did not contain lyrical depth, and was rather very simple and straight forward, in contrast to the wild plot. We did not go too deep into the character's psyche or emotions, as they were just pawns to explain the greater commentary the author was trying to make. It was a uniq [...]

    12. A political satire of sorts, the novel is set in Brazil and follows a cast of characters in their quest for fame and fortune at the cost of the environment. There are aspects of magical realism throughout - including a Japanese man with a sphere orbiting in front of his face, carrier pigeons who traverse continents, and a three-armed man who falls in love with a three-breasted woman. I enjoyed learning about the characters and following their individual stories, which all came crashing together [...]

    13. A wonderfully bizzare, unconventional covergence of colorful, freakish characters, all tied by together by a rainforest. I laughed out loud, and the characters have stuck in my head. I think the style is called magic realism, which I really take to. It ties together ideas around nature and humans, plain fun human nature, spirituality, exploitation & commercialization, and miracles. Quite a mix.I read it for an Asian American Lit Class, but it only seemed marginally related to subject matter. [...]

    14. Pretty awesome so farucks in some standard south america magical realism techniques (narrator is a permanent floating ball in front of a character's head) but with some twists of pure absurdism (narrator is a permanent floating ball in front of a character's head) and contemporary concerns about cultural hybridity (above character is among the community of Japanese immigrants to Brazil community) and environmental devastation (titular rainforest was clearcut and becomes a location of magic more [...]

    15. This was a slow read, but it wasn't a bad read. It wasn't unpleasant or badly written or uninteresting. It just took a while to digest and to really keep the stories straightke when you rewatch Arrested Development and see how there is so much that's connected and foreshadowed. Anyways, this book is "satiric morality play about the destruction of the rain forest" and has some crazy characters, like an American business man with three arms who marries a French ornithologist with three boobs. I'd [...]

    16. Good, compelling, speculative magical realism. Kept my college students' attention, and though they needed a bit of coaching through the really post-modern parts, they loved the end. The satire was biting and brilliant and, given the state of the world today, particularly prescient. Clever and fun and a great break from the heavy and depressing post-human stuff we've been reading lately while still doing some pretty serious work.

    17. This book was pretty bizarre. Lots of interesting characters and I liked the way they all ended up involved in each others lives, but the ending was pretty unsatisfying and left me blinking and wondering what exactly had happened. The ball's existence and reincarnation are never explained, and since the ball was the narrator I found that a little irksome.

    18. The book is just ok. It's full of great and believable imagination--just enough to keep you both thinking and entertained--but it can really drag on at points. Plus, the ending is too much of an abrupt stop. I'm not sure I'd recommend this book unless you're really into realistic stories tinged with the supernatural, environmental lit, or Yamashita.

    19. The story was engaging and thoughtful. The novel was both entertaining and thought provoking; the issue of earth preservation and the problem of big business was a huge part of the story, but the character development and story arc was also interesting. The magical aspect of the novel kept things light and entertaining when talking about such a serious and real problem.

    20. Charming narration, playful prose, just the right blend of disturbing and optimistically redeeming to make a moving and culturally relevant statement about modern society's treatment of the planet -- and each other. Fun, fast read

    21. Another novel filled with symbolism. Requires in depth thought and I'm sure every person takes something different away from this beautiful novel that encompasses many different areas of life including friendship, love, and exploitation of each other and our Earth.

    22. This magical-realism is strangely and strikingly relevant to today's environmentalism concerns. The allegory tropes in this tele-novella create a rich and meaningful look into our actual reality. A must read!

    23. I'm usually not a fan of books with a "mission," as was the case here with it's critique of human waste and its effect on the environment and humanity. Yet, the magical realism kept me reading and even made me enjoy the political message of the book couched in fantasy.

    24. In the tradition of magic realism, this book takes the reader to Brazil, Japan and the U.S. I understand that the author used her form for a global statement, but I think its great geographical span came at the expense of intimacy with the characters. Most of them became one-dimensional.

    25. Very interesting! In tone and theme, reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle." Amusing at times, and dark at others. An intriguing and thought provoking satire.

    26. Hey, duck!*looks up* What?WHAM!Did someone get the license number of that truck??Oooh, sorry. Actually, that was an environmental morality novel. You should've ducked.

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