The Ghosts of Nagasaki - Daniel Clausen
Thanks to this books author, Daniel Clausen, I got a copy of this book not only for free, but also signed and sent to my house. For this copy of the book I want to take a moment to thank Mr. Clausen once again for his generosity.


With that said, I can now get into what I actually thought of the book. This story heavily features the sort of mechanisms that made up what I first learned about when dissecting works of writing - i.e, the kind of stuff that your first English teachers taught you to bring up in discussions.

Because I'm nothing if not a good English major, I identified most, if not all, of the themes and the symbolism in this story, and for brevity's sake, I have decided to make a list of them all:

Red Shoes
The Ocean
Rebellion vs the Oppressive Culture of Japan
"Ghosts"/Memories/True Feelings
The Past/The Present/The Future
The Language/Personal Values/Cultural Barriers
"Where the Wild Things Are"/"Peter Pan"
The City (The Modern)/The Countryside (The Past)
Lack of Faith


Yeah, this is one of those really "literary" books, where symbolism and themes build on top of each other like a casserole and you'll only really appreciate the whole thing if you take the time to take all of it in. I once heard someone describing the difference - the big, main one - between a Western narrative and an Eastern (especially Japanese), and the way that it was explained to me was that Western literature is more like a novel (prose) and Eastern is more like poetry. Eastern is more alright with symbolism floating around quite freely and is alright with sacrificing form as well as the ability to get a specific point across in a clear manner for the sake of beauty.

I think that this book illustrates, in a very clear manner, the distinctions between Western and Eastern literature. Although the story is told from the POV of a westerner, the setting and the culture of Japan bleed through everything.

If there is anything, "Western" that I could point to that it reminds me of, I would have to say that this book reminds me, in many places, of [b:Slaughterhouse-Five|4981|Slaughterhouse-Five|Kurt Vonnegut||1683562]. It all has a very dreamy feel to it, time seems to move, forwards - as well as backwards - at will. There's also seemingly little barrier between the tragic and the comedic, moving quickly and frequently between moods as often as the narration changes in time and space.

Something that I liked, immensely, while reading this book was how effortlessly it often felt as though Clausen could make you feel as though you were physically in the locations in the book, without much use of large paragraphs of description to set the scene and the mood. I can say that even though I have never been to Japan, throughout the pages of this book I feel as though I have felt what it must be like to visit the place.

As a sort of a mash-up between a travelogue and something like "Slaughter-House Five", "Ghosts" is a surprisingly light read that I can best describe as a set of experiences - all tied together rather neatly in a journey.

The only real problem that exists in a major way with this book is in its physical properties and, thankfully for the quality of the writing itself, not in the story. There were a few editing errors that came up, especially as I neared the ending of the book, the covers and the spine are made up of cheap, slippery plastic and the cover art is pretty damn generic - all obvious signs of the fact that it was a self-published product.

To end, I would like to say that this book proves to be witty, surprisingly funny and at times, quite sad. Reading this book adds credence to the claim of the author that he had spent time in Japan.

Much like the main character, however, I did leave the book feeling as though it was missing some crucial component that could have made the story a pretty amazing read. I would point out that some of the narrative felt disconnected from the work as a whole and that I felt as thoughI would have liked to experience more about the relationships between the main character and the others around him - especially Debra and the Welshman - in the narrative.

My rating for this book is more of a 3.5, but I would slide a bit closer to a 3 than a 4.