I am so ashamed of myself. Should I reveal my dirty little secret? I guess I must…
I just finished reading James Clavell’s Gai-Jin, and it is not something I am proud of. It was schlock, complete schlock. I knew it was crappy in the first 50 pages, shortly after the languorous rape of the main female protagonist I knew it was utter crap. I actually put the book down and avoided it for over two months. But I have a stubborn streak in me that hates to abandon a book, any book, once I start reading it. So two weekends ago I picked up that weighty tome of baloney and started reading it in earnest.
And once I got past it’s faults it wasn’t all that bad. Of course it was terrible, with wooden characters, confusing dialogue and a steady string of natural disasters to push the plot along, but I enjoyed the setting and some of the Japanese characters. I found myself rooting for them and eager to get past the wearisome blunderings of the gai-jin in Yokohama.
One major fault: I think over half the book was written in the pluperfect tense, which does not make for good story telling. ‘He had eaten after he had talked to the ship captain.’ Seriously, every other page some character or another drifted off into reverie and I was treated to an expository flashback. Even worse, I reckon at least three different times when one character started a flashback, then another character in the flashback had a deeper flashback. Huh? Who’s point of view is that? It certainly befuddled me. What do you call that? Superduperpluperfect tense?
In spite of all this confusion with tenses and point of view, I enjoyed it. Can’t really go wrong with all those samurai chopping their way through scores of people. Will I read another Clavell novel? No freaking way. I read Shogun ages ago when I was in grade school (seriously), but Gai-Jin was nowhere near as good. I guess I will just chalk this one up as a mistake, a guilty pleasure, and move on.