Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dennis J. Frost

Dennis J. Frost is Wen Chao Chen Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Kalamazoo College.

His new book is Seeing Stars: Sports Celebrity, Identity, and Body Culture in Modern Japan.

Recently I asked him what he was reading.  Frost's reply:
During the school year much of what I read is related to the courses I happen to be teaching, and among those books, one of my all time favorites is John Dower’s Embracing Defeat, which I recently read for the fifth or sixth time. This wonderfully accessible study of Japan during the Allied Occupation is a masterpiece of historical research and writing that has inspired a new generation of scholars to examine the history of Japan in the wake of World War II. From constitutional politics to military prostitution, Embracing Defeat addresses the occupation in ways that no work before it had even attempted, providing ground-breaking insights into this critical period in Japan’s recent past.

Outside of class, I recently finished reading Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart with my oldest son. This book was especially fun to read aloud because several of the characters in the book have the amazing ability to read characters out of books and into our world. As exciting as such a talent might sound, the main characters in the book, a girl named Meggie and her father Mo, quickly learn that the characters from the book Inkheart (yes it’s the same name) are dangerous and not well suited to our world. In addition to a gripping—though somewhat dark—plot and great characters, one of the other joys of Funke’s book is the epigraphs for each chapter, with quotes from works as diverse as Peter Pan and Fahrenheit 451.

Between reading for class and my children, I am currently reading Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies. I’ve not finished the book yet, but so far I’ve been impressed with the complex web of relationships that Ghosh has created for his characters. None of the book’s main characters would appear to have any connection whatsoever, but the ways in which they eventually come together make perfect sense in the novel and in the process raise interesting ideas about the situational nature of identity. Ghosh’s setting in British controlled India on the eve of the Opium War is rich with description. The views of the opium factories, as seen through the eyes of a first time visitor, were particularly (and appropriately) disturbing.
Learn more about Seeing Stars at the Harvard University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Seeing Stars.

--Marshal Zeringue