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about Crooked Cucumber
A reader on the San Francisco
I'm extremely pissed off at the Don Lattin/Chronicle review--what a piece of vile misreading, as if, had you thought that Suzuki-roshi and Miss Ransom had a sexual relationship, you wouldn't have said that directly. Outrageous. And the juxtaposition of the fact that his teacher kept a mistress and Okusan's teasing comment.... this is a man who has clearly written about one religious-community scandal too many, and it has addled his mind.
Anyhow, I think it should be answered. Whether by you, or by someone like Lew Richmond, the record needs to be set straight, or his mis-reading will become "the facts" for some people who only read the review and not the book.
What a travesty of reviewmanship! Feh.
I happened to end up sharing a lunch table today with the Chronicle book section editor, and complained to him about this. Maybe no one thinks it's as outrageous as I do--but sexual impropriety has never been alleged to SR, and I hate to see it start with a reviewer's stupid misreading.
Hang on in there--and glad you got a great review in Houston!
love, (name withheld because I haven't asked. But she's a prominent local poet.)--DC)
Further comments on this by DC:
Since I was worried about this review dwelling even more on ZC's travails, I wasn't bothered by Lattin's mention of the book having innuendos of Suzuki having an affair, when he was a young college student, with his English teacher, Miss Ransom. But there is a sort of justice to this observation in that there were students of Suzuki's who felt that might have been the case (such as Bob Halpern who felt that he'd picked up on something when Suzuki spoke of her). Not me though and I didn't intend any such innuendo--or did I? I sort of like Lattin's comment in that it made me feel like I'd unconsciously included a hint in the book to cover the folks who felt that way. I picked up on a love between them, but I think the proper English Quaker lady and the proper Japanese monk, a foot and fifteen years apart, however eccentric, had just found a relationship that opened up a whole new world to each of them--and they loved each other for that however much they irritated each other. She still saw him as her student and employee and there's just too big a gap there. But we don't know do we. I hope they were lovers. I also think it was quite possible that he could have had lovers throughout his years as a married temple priest, especially in the fifties, especially after his wife died, and quite possibly with Mitsu whom he married. Japanese are quite permissive and leave each other alone if the proper rules are followed in such matters. But, again, we just don't know.
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