Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Love We Share Without Knowing, by Christopher Barzak

I recently finished The Love We Share Without Knowing, a 2009 Nebula award nominee. I wish I had better things to say about it.

The "novel" is a series of very loosely connected vignettes about expatriate Americans teaching english in Japan. The Japan of this novel is a brooding, elegiac place, where the weight of collectivism and general decline literally squeezes the life out of people. You are told right at the start that there is no happy ending or redeeming value, which leads one to believe that tragedy is immanent. Not really. Just lots of sadness.

The author is a decent writer, so the tales are crafted well. But they have a very dated flavor--from the main subject (Japan) through the subtext (9-11) and even the slang, the book seems like it sat for a long time on the author's computer before finally emerging.

Overall, slightly stale croutons--decent flavor but dated, and not at all filling. 2 stars, just.


  1. It didn't stay on my computer for a long time. I wrote it while I was in Japan between 2004-2006, and it was published in 2008.

  2. Ah, Mr. Barzak, good of you to notice these humble scribblings.

    The 2004 was about what I had guessed when I wrote it, which seems a long time ago to me. That's how it is with print publishing, I guess. And in your defense, the general atmosphere of Japan probably has not changed much in the interim. But it really does read like pieces written over a stretch of time, that have then aged awhile. I'll look forward to reading works of yours that I might appreciate more.