*** My Year of Dirt and Water by Tracy Franz

I wish the cover My Year of Dirt and Water: Journal of a Zen Monk’s Wife in Japan would be less drab and more appealing to the prospective reader — because it’s such an interesting book. That said, much of the year seems to be mired in bitter cold (appropriate indoor heating is not, apparently, a Japanese forte) as the author spends a year, mostly in Japan, waiting for her husband to complete training as a Buddhist monk. The best part of the book are the many commentaries on Japanese customs, far from the obvious ones a visitor may observe. The burdensome ritual of omiyage (bringing back souvenirs to everyone one knows), the very personal questions, the onsens, and the misunderstandings despite her (apparently excellent) Japanese.

I tried hard not to think too much about the subtext: the wife waiting as her husband accomplishes his dream; the expectations that she will make his clothes (by hand!); her being allowed to visit the monastery only on certain days, and under strangely restricted rules, and so on…

Leave a comment

Filed under True story

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s