Iyer's travelogue about visiting Japan and living in a monastery is subverted by his encounter with a vivacious woman. (Nov.)
Iyer, author of Video Night in Kathmandu ( LJ 4/1/88), has written a lyrical fable about the Japan of both yesterday and today. He is drawn to Japan, he explains, because ``everyone falls in love with what he cannot begin to understand.'' He begins by traveling to a Kyoto monastery to study Zen Buddhism, which is part of his effort to ``get to the urgent truth.'' This leads him to a friendship with a bourgeois housewife named Sachiko, who is fascinated by the West. Iyer sets out to understand Sachiko and, by extension, Japanese culture. With his light touch for travel writing, Iyer selectively weaves the plaintive love poems and stories of Buddhist priests into his narrative. His sensitive treatment is recommended for most travel collections.-- Susan Fifer Canby, National Geographic Soc. Lib., Washington, D.C.