This week an amazing treat landed in my mail box: the hot-off-the-press Japanese hardcover edition of The Go-Giver. The people at Bungei Shunju Ltd. did a phenomenal job: gorgeous production values. Even though I can’t read a lick of Japanese, leafing through this book is an experience.
For one thing, it’s illustrated—and in the most hilarious, creative, practically hallucinogenic Japanese fashion. Sort of Saul Steinberg meets Manga.
And this is no casual production: whoever did these illustrations took incredible care, and has an uncannily intimate knowledge of the text. And a helluva sense of humor.
- In Chapter 2, when Pindar says, “Have you ever heard people say, You can’t always get what you want?” and Joe grins and says, “You mean, the Rolling Stones?” — in the Japanese edition, so help me, there is a full-page drawing of Mick Jagger on stage belting out The Song.
- Accompanying the description of Rachel’s history in Chapter 7, “Rachel,” is a drawing of Rachel serving coffee. Behind her is a Mellita the size of a well-fed black Labrador Retriever, and a vivid rainbow arcs out of the cup in her hand. (The artist, I think, has seen the film “Yellow Submarine” more than once.)
- How would you illustrate the story’s dramatic conclusion, at the end of chapter 13, “Full Circle”? The artist devotes the facing page to a single image, tucked into the lower-left corner: a simple black and white drawing of a cup of coffee. What a brilliant touch.
- Finally: bonus points for the first reader who can write in and tell me what book is sitting on Gus’s table when we first meet him in Chapter 1. I’ll give you a hint: it’s by Stephen King, and it’s one of my favorite books. (How did the artist know that?!)
I can’t wait to find someone who can read Japanese to walk me through parts of the book. For example, the chapter titles. They all look about the same length as the English ones, except for Chapter 7. In English, it’s “Rachel.” In Japanese, it’s, like, a whole sentence, with a dramatic dash in the middle. I wonder what the heck it says?