A book, of a student in 80’s Tokyo, on living a soulless, yet warm modern world

Kodansha, 1987

This book review also appears on the January 2021 issue of Duke University’s The Wellian Magazine.

It wasn’t many decades ago when commuters in Tokyo subways would have in their hands, in place of a phone, a similarly small-sized book — a bunko-bon. The tight shelves of alleyway bookstores and large chains likewise were lined with such collections, all of standard size and format, with the occasional customer standing reading, halfway through a book held on a single hand. Murakami Haruki’s Norwegian Wood reached such shelves in the Christmas of ’87, with two delightfully themed scarlet and green volumes.


Loneliness can plague our time during quarantine, but don’t let it.

Photo by Joseph Albanese on Unsplash

It’s been troubling to see friends and family suffer from loneliness during the pandemic season. We’re not designed to be alone for this long — but neither are all aspects of our artificial, modern lives.

We leave that small childhood circle that previous generations would have kept friends for life — and say, it’s for the better.

Loneliness is inevitable — even in the tightly packed social circles of a college campus like Duke. We mostly talk to friends who never quite understand, professors and colleagues that subtly misinterpret your point, or family members who know you so well, yet…

The promise of prestige is that every person you’ll meet in college will be smarter or more talented than you.

Photo by Stephen Schramm at Working @Duke

Opening the admissions response letter from Duke is a stressful yet exhilarating experience — so much is promised in the short lines that describe the conditions of your acceptance, the requirements and expectations and repeated congratulations; words that most students walking the grounds of this campus have read over and over, with a mix of disbelief and joy. Soon after, though, you must face the excitement and panic that accompanies the fact that you, you, have been accepted to one of the most prestigious institutes in the country.

When you’re surrounded by everybody that seems mentally, artistically, or socially superior…

We all have our stories of youth and growing up. But what’s really so unique about yours?

Image by Meghann Feldwieser from Pixabay
Image by Meghann Feldwieser from Pixabay
Image by Meghann Feldwieser from Pixabay

There’s many a phrase in my native Korean language that I know the definitions of, but not their nuances quite well enough. One of these are frequently used by my mother: “cheol deulda,” whose two meanings are: to be mature; or rather irrelevantly: to be at the right time.

It was a concept that was used commonly by adults referencing my peer’s certain, more adult-like behaviors, enough to poke at my childhood competitiveness. …

Pyokyeong Son

Korean, in Japan, studying at America. Undergraduate Duke University Student. pyoky.me

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