In Turning Japanese, poet David Mura chronicled a year in Japan in which his sense of identity as a Japanese American was transformed. In Where the Body Meets Memory, Mura focuses on his experience growing up Japanese American in a country which interned both his parents during World War II, simply because of their race. Interweaving his own experience with that of his family and of other sansei-third generation Japanese Americans-Mura reveals how being a "model minority" has resulted in a loss of heritage and wholeness for generations of Japanese Americans.
In vivid and searingly honest prose, Mura goes on to suggest how the shame of internment affected his sense of sexuality, leading him to face troubling questions about desire and race: an interracial marriage, compulsive adultery, and an addiction to pornography which equates beauty with whiteness. Using his own experience as a measure of racial and sexual grief, Mura illustrates how the connections between race and desire are rarely discussed, how certain taboos continue to haunt this country's understanding of itself. Ultimately, Mura faces the most difficult legacy of miscegenation: raising children in a world which refuses to recognize and honor its racial diversity.
Intimate and lyrically stunning, Where the Body Meets Memory is a personal journey out of the self and into America's racial and sexual psyche.
A third-generation Japanese American, Mura ascribes his promiscuousness, addiction to pornography and marital problems to race discrimination. In a jumble of diary excerpts, recollected conversations with his therapist, wife, friends and family, he muses on his parents' efforts to become mainstream Americans, the lasting effects of their humiliating internment during WWII and his own rebellion and rage against culture barriers. The husband of a white woman, Mura also discusses the destructive attitudes of white Americans towards interracial marriages. Although this frank account of his difficulties gives circumstantial evidence of the effects of racial discrimination on Japanese families and individuals, the link is somewhat weakened by the fact that many of the very problems he attributes to it-e.g., rebellion against parents, infidelity-are common in all groups; and the disordered nature of Mura's discourse lacks the impressive style of his acclaimed earlier work, Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei. (May)