I can't remember what made me pick up this book -- it must have been that edition's cover, which was highly gorgeous: bright bright white with big red geisha lips. I think part of me wanted to be above this kind of thing, but you know what? I thoroughly enjoyed it. Memoirs of a Geisha was a fairytale in novel form, and completely absorbing even when it got slightly ridiculous. It's one of those chocolate cake kind of books, descriptively rich, demanding your full attention and almost too sweet but ultimately a great, sticky pleasure.I finished it one night in a loud, fetive metal bar, and if that doesn't recommend a story to you, I don't know what would. It was the dead of winter, Lindsey was visiting from California, and we were really going nuts out there in Brooklyn, since we hadn't seen each other in ages. Although we were both enjoying the attention, finally I had to leave Lindsey alone at a table with about six enthusiastic long-haired, thickly-tattooed sweethearts while I crept off to a dim corner and finished the last few chapters of this book. Seriously, Lindsey took a picture of me crouched at a table by myself, where every once in awhile someone in a tight vinyl bondage outfit or gory tee shirt would come up and demand to know what I was reading. Finally I wrapped it up and returned to the socializing, and the rest of the night? Well, that's a story of its own, and not a chocolate cake one.Meirav Rath
How honest and true a picture can an American man paint on the world of a geisha? Not much, in my opinion.True, until the second world war starts, the book's a pretty nice window into that hidden world (as much as Golden's resources allowed him to know) but beyond that this book becomes another piece of American romantic kitsch trash as everything the main character ever wanted becomes reality and she moves to the mighty and wonderful America, to the country who flattened two of her nation's cities with atomic bombs. Reading and learning a little about the Japanese on my own, I tend to think she'd have too much pride to do something like that.Written in an OK style, not a work of art that's for sure. I don't recommend this book unless sticky romance novels are your taste.Hannah
This book was well written, interesting, tasteful, and informative. It seems like the author really did his research. The culture of this book is what interested me the most. The role women played and their place in society. Although this is merely "based on actual events", I kind of took a lot of it as what really went on. I've always thought of a Geisha like a prostitute, not as a companion/entertainer. I never thought about it being a career that they would have had special schools for young girls to attend. I can't imagine being born into that life where from an early age that is what you are destined to do. But culturally, it was so glamorous and it was like wanting to be famous.Coming from her background, I can see why Sayuri would aspire to be a Geisha and feel it was out of reach. She was such a diverse character for me. I loved seeing her grow up and encounter all the human emotions and endure through them. It seemed as though she was a victim of cruelty, jealousy, and misery throughout the book, but in the end beat them all. She was a good person and I respected that she didn't let how people treated her affect who she became.Khalid
Memoirs of a Geisha is an amazing novel that discusses the life of a Geisha, a Japanese artist-entertainer. Both its very exotic setting, with its extremely different value system, and its fascinating plot, which grabs your interest early on and keeps you waiting for more all along, contribute to making this novel a special book worthy of reading.The best quality in this novel, in my opinion, is the way the narrator (Chiyo), tells the story. Her reflections concerning much of the events in the novel are very similar to those of the reader. At least I felt I could connect with her, and approved of – even if I didn't always agree with – many of her actions. The pain she suffered is well-depicted in the novel, we almost start to feel that pain with her; we often share the same surprises with her about the different things a geisha should or should not do, and even share the pleasures of success regardless of the fact that most of us despise the geisha way of life.A slave, sold by your own family, and trained for the sole purpose of pleasuring men, whether you like it or not. Imagine living such a life; I know I cannot. Yet, at some point, you are happy that Chiyo succeeded in becoming a geisha. If that's an indication of anything, it's the skills of the author.They say a geisha is no prostitute; well, that may be true, but as the story truly shows, the main revenue for a geisha is through sex, at least when she is a successful one. To me, sex for money, no matter how much you sugar coat it, is still some form of prostitution.I don't like what she did with Nobu, but I understand her perspective. Our emotions are not necessarily affected by how other people treat us, but by how we feel about their behavior. The chairman in my opinion was much more the Chiyo type than Nobu is, and her dedication to reach him amazes me, though not the methods she used to achieve it after her desperation. The destruction of Hatsumomo was, in my opinion, the brightest point in the story. I feel that the story, and the geisha life, has changed forever after the Second World War, so Chiyo, or any other geisha at the time for that matter, could not have been more successful after the war, nor could the story be more fun.Yet, another bright point was the encounter with the Chairman. Since Pumpkin caused the Chairman to run into Chiyo and the Minister, I knew the Chairman and Chiyo are going to have a future together. In fact, when Iwamura Electric called for Chiyo to the Ichiriki Teahouse, I guessed – correctly – that Nobu won't be there, but the Chairman.The most disappointing thing in this novel, in my opinion, is the way the author talked about the US. If the novel had talked about any other place than his country, this might have been tolerable, but when an American author, writing a novel that takes place in Japan for the most part, makes the main character fall in love with the US, and talks about it like a country much better than Japan, there is something wrong. Unless, and I hope this is the case, he did this mainly because the actual geisha upon which he based his novel had described this to him. Then I might accept it.mai ahmd
حين كنتُ أدرس التاريخ الجاهلي في شبة الجزيرة العربية كانت هناك فقرة تتكرر دائما عن وضع المرأة في المجتمع عبارة كنت أشعر أنهم يكررونها بشكل متعمد لإهانة جنس النساء كان المؤلف يصف معاملة الرجل المرأة على أساس إنها متاع أو ما شابه حين كنت أقرأ الجيشا رنّت تلك العبارة في ذهني مسترجعة قسوة الرجل ولامبالاته تجاه هذا الكائن الحي !أي وضع مأساوي كانت تعيشه المرأة في الهند أو الصين أو اليابان أو عند العرب أو غيرهم شرقا وغربا لم يكن يختلف !الأنثى كانت تدور دوما في فلك الرجل تموت و تحيا لأجله !الجيشا درّبت لتكون على هيئة لوحة جميلة يتبارز عليها الرجال وينالها أكثرهم سطوة وحظوة وذكاءا ..هذا الوضع المأساوي ونوعية التفكير الذكوري المتوارث بلا شك يثير الحزن والحقيقة إنني طوال قرائتي لتلك الرواية أتعجب كيف كانت النساء تبيع أنفسهن بهذه الطريقة المخجلة وعلى الرغم أن الأمر مازال يمارس بأشكال مختلفة وأكثر بساطة في الكثير من الأماكن التي يخيم عليها كابوس الفقر إلا أن ما يثير الدهشة كيف أن الجيشاوات خلقن لهم عالما خاصا به قوانين خاصة تسيرها نساء غلبت عليهم شهوة الطمع والسيطرة وانتفت معها كل معاني الإنسانية !يحكي آرثر غولدن قصة فتاة وشقيقتها والدها صياد كبير في السن بينما والدتها كانت تعاني من مرض عضال أفقدها القدرة على الحياة ومع الوقت تفقد فعاليتها ويرجع صوت الألم مجلجلا ليحرم بطلتنا الصغيرة من الشعور بالأمان ومرارة الإحساس بقرب النهاية وفقا لذلك لم يكن هناك من يرعى الطفلة بطلة القصة وشقيقتها المراهقة ، خرجت شيو لتحضر الدواء لوالدتها ولكنها أصيبت فأحضرها الصيادون إلى رب النعمة تاناكا ، اللقاء مع تاناكا هو الذي غير حياتها إلى إتجاه آخر تماما لم يكن يخطر في بال تلك الفتاة الصغيرة شيو كانت تتمتع بعينين رماديتين تسرق الأنظار على الرغم من إنها تسير حافية القدمين مبعثرة الشعر والملابس إلا إن السيد تاناكا انبهر بتلك العينين وبدأ يرى مستقبلا آخر سيعود عليه بالمال !ونظرا لظروف الفقر القاهرة والمستقبل الغامض الذي يحيط بالفتاتين اضطر الأب إلى بيع فتاتيه إلى السيد تاناكا الذي باعهم بدوره،، الصغيرة لأحد بيوتات تربية الجيشاوات والمراهقة إلى أحد بيوت الدعارة ومن هنا يبدأ مشوار عذابات الطفلة التي تضاءلت أحلامها في بيت ورعاية جيدة في معية السيد تاناكا آرثر غولدن درس أصول الفن الياباني وهذا الأمر إنعكس بشكل بارع في روايته الجيشا وفي توغله لعالم الجيشاوات الذي يقوم على تربية الفتاة لتكون راقصة وعازفة ومتذوقة للفن ومتحدثة وقادرة على خدمة الرجال في بيوتات الشاي الشهيرة التي يجتمع فيها رجالات المجتمع الراقي ، ما لفت نظري بل سلب لبي هذا الوصف الشائق والدقيق الذي اعتمده غولدن في وصف الكيمونوات وهو اللباس الذي كانت ترتديه الجيشاوات لجذب اهتمام الرجال ويمثل مبارزة حقيقية بين الجيشاوات للحصول على أفخر وأجمل أنواعها وكان غولدن يسترسل في الوصف حتى تعرف أن الكاتب نفسه مولع بهذا النوع من الفن فيصف القماش واللون والرسوم ويقوم بتحليل حركتها فتبدو وكأنها لوحة تضج بالحيوية والحياة ، لقد كان غولدن أيضا يتوغل في تفاصيل صغيرة كالصباغ الأبيض وطريقة طلاء الوجه والشفاه والعينين وكل هذه الأمورالتي تذكرك أن غولدن استغرق أعواما طوال ليكتب هذه الرواية كما فعل باموق في اسمي أحمر هذه الدقة وهذا الشعور بالمسئولية تجاه الكتابة ألا يجعلك تقف احتراما للكاتب خاصة إنه قرر الدخول إلى عالم لا ينتمي له في الحقيقة !إن الأمر لم يقتصر فقط على الدخول لذلك العالم ولكن بحبكة مشوقة لم تنتهي عند عذابات تلك الصغيرة مع منافستها التي لم تألو جهدا في زعزعة وجودها في الأوكيا ولا بفكرة الهرب التي ظلت تراودها للبحث عن حياة حرة وكريمة تلك الفترة المظلمة التي حولتها إلى خادمة مهانة حين تخلى عنها الأب والأخت برق أمل وحيد كان دافعا لها لكي تصبح الجيشا الأكثر شهرة في تاريخ الجيشاوات بل بهذا الأمل الذي يخلقه الحب ليصبح هو الدافع الرئيسي لإحتمال كل ما لا يمكن أن يحتمل ، إن اللقاءات التي جمعت بين سايوري ورجلها الوحيد كانت من أجمل المشاهد الدافئة والحميمية وإن كانت لقاءات متباعدة وقليلة وتحمل القليل من الأمل والكثير من اليأس ..كان غولدن متفوقا في رسم شخصياته الخيالية وكأنها شخصيات حقيقية ، إن تفرّد الكاتب جاء في المساحات التي قدمها لكل شخصية كتب عنها قد تكون صفحات كثيرة وقد تكون أسطر قليلة وعلى الرغم من أن سايوري هي الشخصية المحورية في هذه الرواية إلا أن حضور الشخصيات الأخرى كان متساويا من حيث قوة تأثيرها على مجريات السرد غولدن الأم التي تدير الأوكيا بجشعها وتسلطها وهاتسومومو المنافسة الجميلة التي ظهرت كالأنثى الحية تبدل جلدها حسب ما تقتضيه مصالحها الشخصية أحببت جدا طريقة رسم هذه الشخصية المتحركة حيوية مجنونة مليئة بالغرابة والإدهاش , الفارس النبيل الرئيس , البارون القبيح المنفوخ كبالون والدكتور الذي تفوح من أسطر غولدن حين يتحدث عنه رائحة المستشفيات ومامها الأنثى الجميلة العاقلة نموذج للجيشا المثال التي كانت تزاحم بنضج الأنثى ذات التجارب ونابو آه من تلك الشخصية إنها بالفعل من أروع وأعظم شخصيات الرواية على غرابته وتصرفاته العنيفة التي كانت ترافق صفات أخرى نبيلة لا أدري لم إستدعت هذه الرواية سيرة تلك النساء الصينيات ( بجعات برية ) كنتُ أفكر في الرابط بين الروايتين ربما هو عالم الشرق أو ربما هي الأنثى المهانة ولعلها العذابات التي عانتها الصغيرة أو قد يكون ذلك النوع المتفرد من المتعة والتشويق الذي حصدته في الكتابين عن عالمين مختلفين عني تماما !Alena
Golden earns points for creativity, but loses them for inaccuracy.The "memoir" of the elegant Sayuri, whose life as a high-class geisha is disrupted by the outbreak of war, is written in an intriguing and alluring monologue -- purportedly narrated by Sayuri herself to the author -- that pulls the reader in from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the real narrator, Arthur Golden, took some dramatic liberties with history and cultural practices, and the fallacious elements sprinkled throughout detract from a potentially fascinating story. (This may not present a major issue to a reader who has no prior knowledge of Japanese culture, but such a reader should also be warned NOT to take this book as a factual representation of life in Japan.)Additionally, although the narrative starts strong, it loses momentum partway through the story. By the time the inevitable tremors of World War II began to shake the cultural bedrock of Japan, I was already beginning to lose interest in the artificial suspense.Overall, the book is written fairly well, and I can see why some readers would like it... but even while I was reading, I couldn't help feeling that I should have enjoyed it more.Madeline
A beautiful story that explores the secret world of the Japanese geisha (if you think that geisha = prostitue, you need to read this book just to learn how wrong that assumption is), told in the style of an interview with a woman named Sayuri Nitta, who used to be one of the most famous geisha in Kyoto. My favorite parts of the story were the detailed descriptions of geisha beauty rituals (they wax their hair and sleep with their necks resting on wooden blocks so they don't mess up the hairstyles) and tradtions (when a geisha leaves her okiya, or geisha house, a spark is struck against her back for good luck). The descriptions of the kimono worn by Sayuri and the other geisha in the book are also gorgeous. The only part of this book that I didn't love was Sayuri's constant adoration of a man know only as the Chairman. Sayuri meets him when she's eight, and because he's kind to her and buys her a flavored ice, she decides that she's going to become a geisha just so she can meet him again. Did I mention that the chairman was about forty at the time? I didn't have a lot of faith in the level of Sayuri's love for him, and just couldn't wrap my head around the idea of an eight-year-old girl falling in love with a man more than thirty years her senior. UPDATE: So, I wrote this review when I was in high school and didn't know much about the actual writing process of this book. Turns out Arthur Golden didn't actually do that much real research and had a bad habit of just making shit up. This book apparently pissed off a real geisha so much that she wrote her own book in response. I'm writing this update now because today in my literature class we were talking about how we all basically read only British and American books, and this one girl starts talking about how she used to only read American books and then one day read Memoirs of a Geisha and it just, like, totally opened her eyes to other cultures. And everyone is looking at her like she just said that watching The Godfather helped her understand Italian history. So basically what I'm saying is, don't come to this story looking for historical accuracy. It's still a good story, just not necessarily an accurate one. Think of it as fiction, and you'll be fine.Juushika
Memoirs of a Geisha is an American novel, and as such the attempt at West does East, especially on the complex and delicate subject of the geisha, is compelling, interesting, but also heavy-handed and ultimately ineffective (even more so in the case of the film). It is a wonderful introduction to geisha, Japanese culture, and the East for the uninitiated Western reader, and I can see why the book is popular, but I found it disappointing. For the reader already familiar with the culture, western influences are all too clear and the book comes off as a bit clunky and imperfect. I also had some problems with the general perception of the characters by readers versus the way the characters were actually portrayed in the book--Memoirs is far from the good-willed fairy tale that people assume it is. By all means, read it, but leave it open for critique and remember that a more authentic representation of eastern culture, especially in the details, will come from the east itself.A lot of my critique stems from the fact that this movie has attained such wide-spread fame and been made into a movie, to be sure. I feel like it is being perpetuated as something it is not. Even the introduction to the book (a faux translator's note) perpetuates the myth that Memoirs is an accurate, beautiful, in-depth reflection of the life of a geisha, when in truth it is no more that historical fiction and is written by an outsider. Golden has done his research and is well-educated on his subjects, and I have no problem with people reading from, taking interest in, and even learning from this book; I do, however, think it is important that readers don't conflate the American novel with Japanese reality. They aren't the same thing, no matter how much research Golden did, and if we take the book as an accurate representation we're actually underestimating and undervaluing geisha, Japan, and Japanese culture.Because Golden attempts to write from within the geisha culture, as a Japanese woman, he must do more than report the "facts" of that life--he must also pretend to be a part of it. Pretend he does, acting out a role as if he has studied inflection, script, and motivation. He certainly knows what makes writing "Japanese" but his attempt to mimic it is not entirely successful. The emphasis on elements, the independent sentences, the visual details are too prevalent and too obvious, as if Golden is trying to call our attention to them and thus to the Japanese style of the text. He does manage to draw attention, but to me, at least, what I came away with was the sense that Golden was an American trying really hard to sound Japanese--that is, the effect betrayed the attempt and the obvious attempt ruined the sincerity of the novel, for me. I felt like I was being smacked over the head with beauty! wood! water! kimono! haiku! and I felt insulted and disappointed.The problems that I saw in the text were certainly secondary to the purpose of the text: to entertain, to introduce Western readers to Japanese culture, and to sell books (and eventually a film). They may not be obvious to all readers and they aren't so sever that the book isn't worth reading. I just think readers need to keep in mind that what Golden writes is fiction. Historical fiction, yes, but still fiction, therefore we should look for a true representation of Japanese culture within Japanese culture itself and take Memoirs with a grain of salt.I also had problems with the rushed end of the book, the belief that Sayuri is a honest, good, modest, generous person when she really acts for herself and at harm to others throughout much of the book, the perpetuation of Hatsumomo as unjustified and cruel when she has all the reason in the world, and in general the public belief that Memoirs is some sort of fairy tale when in fact it is heavy-handed, biased, and takes a biased or unrelatistic view toward situations, characters, and love. However, all of those complains are secondary, in my view, to the major complain above, and should be come obvious to the reader.Memoirs goes quickly, is compelling, and makes a good read, and I don't want to sound too unreasonably harsh on it. However, I believe the book has a lot of faults that aren't widely acknowledged and I think we as readers need to keep them in mind. This is an imperfect Western book, and while it may be a fun or good book it is not Japanese, authentic, or entirely well done.Jen
My friend Robin sent this book to me shortly after I moved to Tokyo. It was hard to find English-language books at first, so she sent me a couple to keep me reading. I probably would not have been interested in Memoirs of a Geisha had I not just moved to Japan. But I found it to be one of the best books I've ever read.When I first started reading the book, I wanted to see what Sayuri looked like, so I did a Google search. It was then that I realized the book I was reading was not a biography, but fiction. Had me fooled! Still, it's easy to imagine that it is a true story. Even though I've only lived in Tokyo for about two months, I see how all of this story could be completely true.I love Golden's characters! Pumpkin is so funny. Some of the lines he gives her crack me up! And Sayuri, of course, is an incredible character. Through her stories I laughed and even cried a couple of times. The stories themselves were so plain, just as Japanese people truly speak. The fact that an American man wrote this (and I believe it was his first novel) still amazes me. You'd swear it was really the memoir of a geisha.Several nights in a row I stayed up reading until 5am. I just couldn't get enough of this book. I guess partly because of the story, but also in part because there's a little bit of Sayuri in each of us.Ellie
This is a spectacular must read novel. The writing style is exceptionally beautiful and the descriptions are so vivid that you find yourself successfully transported to 1930’s Japan, and into the lives of the geishas, their traditions and culture. All the characters were beautifully crafted, and the story was captivating and well structured. I fell utterly in love with this novel and with Sayuri. This tale has drama, elegance, romance and is completely and utterly inspiring.Denise
** spoiler alert ** Read it in four days, couldn't put it down. I had to keep remembering that it wasn't 100% true. But I think that it was as close as we could have gotten. Mineko - The geisha that Golden interviewed did a great job on educating him on the way of a Geisha according to a lecture he gave. I wasn't as shocked as everyone else seemed to be about the way things were in Japan. Women were not permitted to think or act for themselves. And just like everywhere else, there really wasn't any use for a daughter except to marry her off to a husband with money in hopes of securing future for the daughter's parents and family. There was also a strict code of honor and respect among geishas and the Japanese culture. That is what prevented Sayuri from acting out on Hatsumomo and why she couldn't reveal her feelings nor could the chairman disrespect his friend to be with Sayuri. I admired that about The Chairman and Sayuri, they did what they knew was right and did not follow their feelings. In the end, look where it got them. They were happy, growing old together, probably had a child, she lived peacefully and very well in New York taken care of until the day she died. I wonder what would have happened to Sayuri if she acted out and exchanged Hatsumomo's make-up with rat poison. More than likely, she would have been thrown out of the house and made into a prostitute until she died. In the end, Hatsumomo ended up suffering because she didn't follow the code of honor. Also, fate punished Sayuri for disobeying, when she tried to escape and fell off the roof and I'm sure that had an effect on her future decision makings.I wish that Sayuri was able to reunite with her sister but in a way I'm glad that they didn't and avoided the typical Hollywood ending. Sayuri reminded me a lot of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. She had her own way of seeing things but they were always clever and accurate. I loved the part when she says that her the back of her father's head was as old and his face but it was smooth like an egg, not deep set in wrinkles. There's living proof in every bald head of why stress and worry creates wrinkles in the face.Other characters: The Doctor - warped and twisted at least he was useful in help Mameha win the bet against Mother and secured Sayuri place in the house.The Baron - Hated that he hurt Mameha by going after Sayuri - His disrespectfulness got him in the end.The Chairman - A man that believed in honor and respect above all. And he was rewarded for it until his death.Nobu - Despite his rudeness and abruptness, he did care for Sayuri and made sure she was safe. I wish we learned what happened to him in the end but based on the pattern of the story those who lived with honor, died with honor.Mameha - Loved her, she was smart, sweet, strong - she didn't let anyone push her around and her subtleness was just as effective in getting what she wants as any man. Actually it was better because no one realized that they helped her so they never came back to be repaid.Pumpkin - Started out sweet and nice but finally acted out after years of betrayal. She was abused and used by Hatsumomo and the household, lied to about being adopted, forced to prostitution during the war. If Sayuri wasn't so wrapped up in her own issues she might have been able to see past herself and try to help Pumpkin more. Despite Pumpkin's betrayal to Sayuri, I hope she went against the pattern of the book and lived the rest of her years happily. Probably the smartest, after all, up until the end, Sayuri thought that Pumpkin made a mistake in bringing the Chairman to the theater instead of Nobu. Never thought that Pumpkin did it on purpose.http://www.randomhouse.com/vintage/re... - The official site about the bookhttp://www.theherald.org/issues/03089... - Recap of a lecture Arthur Golden gavehttp://www.cnn.com/books/dialogue/990... - Interview with Arthur Golden about the book.Shayantani Das
You know, I feel bad giving the book 2 stars. I am sure the author did a very hard job researching this stuff and all and the writing sure wasn’t bad. The narrative style and the simplicity of the book were okay. But, every moment I have spent reading this book, has annoyed me. So sorry Arthur Golden, 2 stars it is. Sayuri, the titular geisha, the oh-so charming girl, the narrator, was damn irritating. There is a literal bombardment of similes. One simple statement, which can be expressed just as simply has to be explained by comparing it to the hills or the sunset or the breeze blowing by or the river flowing by (you get the point). It felt very pretentious to me. Not a river really, more like an ocean, with its waves continuously crashing on the shore, destroying the sand castles of peace of mind (oooops! I caught the Sayuri syndrome). Also, major problem, CHAIRMAN, my dearest chairman, what does Sayuri see in you? I totally don’t get it. To devote one’s life to a man like him, eeks! He has set new standards of edwardishness (check out the ending of the book, you will know what I mean). That is not the way to treat a girl, as if she was a kind of birthday present. Nobu is just behind the chairman in the irritating character list. He is the biggest hypocrite in the book actually, because he pretends to not to be a hypocrite. In fact the only honest characters in the book were mother, Hatsumomo and pumpkin. They were bitches and they knew it. I don’t want to criticize this book so much and would like to stop here, but, I wasted my money on this book and it has made me regret it, so revenge time. THE CLIMAX ABSOLUTELY, ROYALLY SUCKED. One doesn’t just suffer from all that Sayuri went through and live happily ever after. This isn’t a Disney princess tale. It’s a tale of a geisha, and as Mameha puts it, one doesn’t become a geisha for fun, they do because they have no choice. The author absolutely ruined the book with the unrealistic ending. And no, it doesn’t end here, there is more. The book totally contradicts itself, it chants through out that a geisha is an artist not a prostitute, but Sayuri’s virginity is literally auctioned of. What’s more, this book is freaking historically inaccurate. I did some research and it turns out, mizuage was supposed to be more of a sweet 16 party, a change of hairstyle thing. And the geisha who was interviewed for this book even told the author so. So the changing of fact to make the story juicy was really slimy. Still, I guess many people might like it, so I am not really going to advice people against it(so what if I said all the things above), read at your own risk, it might change your life and you may end up thinking that this is the Japanese form of Titanic(sob, awwww, sob) and chairman is the dream come true.T.J.
Damn if you aren't one of the most problematic things I've ever read, Memoirs of a Geisha.Like much of non-Asian America, I was swept up in the delight of reading this book in 2000. I was fifteen and precocious, and the narrative was arresting. I couldn't put the book down. I wrote this in 2000:"Golden has hit pay dirt with this masterpiece. An insightful, curious, and caring look into the mysterious world of geisha, Arthur Golden peels away the ignorance and labeling that westerners have covered the secretive Japanese profession. Although it sinks at times into a near melodramatic prose, the book's protagonist is interesting, insightful, and enjoyable. Her witty anecdotes and thoughtful mannerisms in speaking make Memoirs of a Geisha a delightful and unstoppable read."Then I got older, went to college and graduate school, and developed a critical, thinking eye.And I'm mad at myself.insightful? Really? God, I was naive. This novel, while entertaining is so problematic I rarely have time to descend into my criticism. It continues the Orientalism that Edward Said loathed so very much; rather than "skillfully entering" the world of a Japanese woman, it apes her identity, and ultimately deprives her of a voice, creating a sort of Orientalist imagination for us to enjoy without ever really seeing her. The book is still engaging as a narrative, but the sappy ending, the frankly sexist portrayals at some points, and Sayuri's outright inability to identify outside of her Chairman is rather frightening. It serves to objectify fetishism at its worst. Yet I can only give you three stars, because I'm still partly under your spell, Golden. Damn.Erin
oh blargh. you people.this is my re-review of memoirs. a remix review, if you will. review revitalized. memories of "memoirs". ooh that last one was kinda catchy...OKAY. on with things. reviewing and... such.i seem to find this book in the most unusual of places. before i explain aforementioned "oh, blargh. you people", you must know: the first time i discovered this book, i was in a used bookstore in Laos. some of you are well traveled, perhaps you've been. Vientiane. right next to the hungarian bakery in the center square that has a large sign on top featuring a jolly looking fat man whose smile has faded away a bit under the sun. yes? ok then.now, mind you, in this bookstore, there weren't very many books in english that weren't written by someone named "danielle steele". which reminds me, i must look this person up. i see her name everywhere. thousands of abandoned danielle steeles, stacked up in bookstores around the world, it's simply amazing. like a parasitic algae that thrives on dusty bookshelves and healthy, decent novels, suddenly appearing when you least expect it and obviously multiplying until it chokes out good literature. it makes me feel like a gardener every time i visit such a store, plucking shakespeares and silverstiens out of the shadows of the steeles and putting them back in their rightful place in the sun....that was a good one too. i think someone should take note of this. while you're at it, take down the recipe. it's TWO parts jack to ONE part dr. pepper. you may title it: recipe to success. under notes, please help me remember, perhaps a little notation like: "found to bring out the ernest hemingway of book reviewing". ah, goodreads on a saturday night. back to the review.here's what i wrote the last time. warning: it's kind of boring. you have permission to use the time you might have spent reading the next two paragraphs finding more dr. pepper."i read this while traveling through remote parts of southeast asia, so it should speak volumes that i was not distracted from this story in the least. i even rigged my flashlight to a seat during a midnight bus so that i could finish the part with the bidding war. i studied japan a lot in high school, but parts of this world were still knew to me, the details were so many. very good read, very culturally involved."OMG IT'S BORING ME AND I DIDN'T EVEN RE-READ IT, I JUST SKIMMED.This book was freaking awesome. Yeah, you know it was. You know why it's awesome, and you came here to sulk? Yeah, I said sulk. Stop looking at the screen all cross eyed that way. I re-read it the other day. Founda copy for fifty cents at goodwill (buried, i might add, under four multicolored danielle steeles). and after i read it, and came back to goodreads, and read other reviews, i decided it needs to be said:It's awesome because you couldn't stop thinking about it after you had read it. Yeah. A couple years after you read it, in fact. Every so often, perhaps for no reason at all, you got a glimpse of something that reminded you of the different layers of a kimono, or the pickled radish that a certain geisha liked to snack while reading her tabloids. you can't put a finger on it, but stacked in the thousands of memories that make up your soul, you count among the most satisfying the story of a geisha and a chairman. you would never, ever admit it, but you like this book because it has a happy ending. a nice ending. not perfect, like a fairy tale, but nice nonetheless. the geisha herself taught you that there are no perfect, happy endings, but that one can find happiness anyway.and you are angry that a man wrote it.oh blargh, you people. catty little comments like you are seriously pissed that golden put "memoir" in the title. like you didn't read "dear america diaries" and "american girl stories" when you were little and let your imagination pretend these girls like you were real.the reason people write stories is because they have a story to tell. and the best kind of writer is the person who has a story inside them that burns so brightly, and tugs at their soul nightly (OMG i am also rhyming. re-pour, please) that they toil over it, inject their passion and blood and sweat and tears, right into the pages.and golden has that passion. come on. the way the book reads is pure poetry. i thank my lucky stars i had an english teacher in high school who took us through 4 weeks of japanese poetry. how beautiful golden's descriptions. how perfectly crafted his comparisons. how touching and absorbing his characters. how riveting the plot. he clearly did his research, and styled the syntax and even the thought process of his characters as closest he could to the time they existed.he so obviously wanted us to love his geisha the way he did.and you criticize, like you weren't completely wound up in who would receive suyuri's virginity? like you didn't cringe when you discovered what became of pumpkin? like you didn't feel every betrayal and victory in the fantastic little world of the okiya golden created?you are simply angry she isn't real, not a flesh and blood soul who can return your adoration. oh. and--- did i mention this before? it was written by a man. a white dude. who couldn't POSSIBLY know about geisha. here's the thing, you weird feminist people who seem to be so hung up on golden "sashaying about, trying to pass off his novel as a memoir". obviously, if we were out, face to face, i would buy you one of these marvelously delicious concoctions i am sipping and we would duke it out like civilized bookworms. however, we lack a proper venue, so i've gotta say it here, without the benefit of you being slightly marinated (in order to better see my point). what would you rather have? a hundred danielle steeles, pooped out so rapidly they cannot be distinguished even by titles, haunting you at the bottom of every bargain bin in the world....?or the simply marvelously written, carefully crafted (if not, in fact, true) story of a woman (not just a geisha) who happens to be created by a man?that's what i thought. i'll drink to that.Marianne
I read this lovely novel on the plane home from Japan, finishing it upon my return to the US. I was surprised - given that it was written by a Western man - how accurately the Japanese culture was portrayed (at least from the limited knowledge I gleaned during my short time living there, and given that it was set in a time when Japan was, in many ways, very different from today).Perhaps it was because I'd just left this beautiful country, but I was clearly able to imagine the vivid depictions described by Chiyo/Sayuri. When I was in Kyoto, my friends and I were lucky enough to see a maiko-san walking back to her okiya (a relatively rare event these days), and I will forever associate my memory of that elegant young girl with this book.All of that said, if the author did violate a confidentiality agreement with his primary source, it is abhorrent that he did so. He allegedly also embellished the truth of certain aspects of life as a geisha, which is disappointing; and yet many authors take artistic license. Whether 100% accurate or not, the story is poetic as a work of fiction.