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    Categories: In the Magazine

From the Magazine: Two Great Summer Reads

Everyone seeks out light fiction for their summertime reading, basically reading a new version of the same book every year. These two local authors aim to expand your mind, poolside.

Turning Japanese

Tokyo is a new novel by Michael Mejia, professor of creative writing at University of Utah. This is not easy reading. A book inspired by a National Geographic article Mejia read years ago about the mammoth Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo’s plot is told mostly in the voice of a salaryman, head of the tuna section. Central to the story are his marriage problems, resulting from the high-pressure day-for-night schedule of Tsukiji workers and—what happens when a woman’s body is found embedded in a giant tuna.

No one could say that’s not intriguing.

But more intriguing is the collage-like way Mejia structured the book, the shifting viewpoints and voices and the use of the em dash (a long hyphen) as the sole punctuation. “I wanted it to read like a Japanese text written in English,” Mejia says.  “The em dashes indicate that the thoughts are not necessarily complete. There is more to be said.”

With its brief, unfinished-looking paragraphs and odd punctuation, Tokyo can seem intimidating when you first open it. Mejia has advice to ease the entry: “Read it aloud. Written language is really all about rhythm.”

Not-so-Plain

You think you know Jane Eyre. Think again.

Salt Lake-based author Brodi Ashton has teamed up with Cynthia Hand and Jodi Meadows to write My Plain Jane, the second in their Lady Janies series and the follow-up to their New York Times best-seller, My Lady Jane.

Yes, there’s a theme of Janes in the books—and that’s not an accident. The authors started with the idea to humorously retell the story of Lady Jane Grey —Queen of England for nine short days—and from there decided there were more stories of Janes who had been done in by the patriarchy to tell.

That brings us to Jane Eyre. The authors want us to ask the following questions: What if Jane Eyre was real and not a fictional character? What if instead of a character created by, she was instead friends with, Charlotte Brontë? What if there were secret societies and madcap hi-jinx and, yes, even ghosts? And, perhaps most importantly: What is Mr. Rochester’s deal, anyway?

While technically a young adult novel, this one is good for all ages. It’s all told with laugh aloud witticism and a hearty tip-of-the-hat to the source material. But this Eyre’s got supernatural elements and maybe, even, a happier ending than even Charlotte Brontë could imagine.

Brodi Ashton received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Utah and a master’s degree in international relations from the London School of Economics. Brodi lives in Salt Lake with her family. You can catch up on all Lady Janies related news at: ladyjanies.blogspot.com/

Michael Mejia is editor-in-chief of Western Humanities Review, co-founding editor of Ninebark Press, and a professor of English at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, where he lives with his wife and their Jack Russell Terrier. michaelmejiawriter.com

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