Why had the Japanese government embarked on a policy to limit rice production, effectively paying some farmers to keep their paddy fields idle? For Suzuki, rice was the sacred heart of the country’s economy. He started to think about how to make the staple food more popular, so that Japan had no reason to restrict the crop.
And that’s when it came to him: he would use his firm’s knowledge of candy-packaging machines to develop the robot. The idea, while off-the-wall in the mid-1970s, had a simple premise. If he could lower the cost of making sushi by mechanizing parts of the process and reducing the need for highly paid chefs, he could bring the previously elite Japanese dish to the masses, and in doing so increase demand for rice.
When my agent suggested that she might be able to sell a memoir from me, I said, “Yes, sure, no problem.” I then promised her 50 pages in a “week or two”, pages that I hadn’t written. And then I sat down to write. This passage above is from a chapter called, “How I Learned to Shoot a Gun.” It was the first chapter I wrote—the story so clear and shining in my mind the way so many moments the years since Katrina had been—and I wrote it through aphasia. I have traumatic brain injury—a coup contrecoup with diffuse axonal shearing of the brain, the same type of global brain injury as Gabby Giffords—that severely impairs my expressive language skills. At the time I started to write my memoir, I could only speak in two word sentences.
Writing was easier, if imperfect.
A theft, a fugitive: The plot, taken together with the novel’s short, immersive chapters and the escalating risks that confront Marion and her family, locates “The Misfortune of Marion Palm” somewhere on the thriller continuum. It would make good airplane reading — or motel reading, for readers who link Marion’s name and her swag to “Psycho.” But the book is also sunnier than that suggests, part satire and part Odyssey into the humbler precincts of Brooklyn (the borough where Culliton, now a graduate student at the University of Denver, was herself born and raised).
In Lesley Nneka Arimah’s new short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, masculinity acts neither as a foil for comparison nor as a standard for female characters’ strength. Instead, Arimah explores new ways to think about the intersections of femininity, strength, and vulnerability.
Yet, revealing as the book is about Mr Gorbachev’s ability to overcome ideological dogmas that required squaring up to the West, it is equally revealing about how Western leaders were unable or unwilling to believe him. This became evident during the presidency of the elder George Bush, some of whose advisers, labelling themselves “realists”, argued that Mr Gorbachev’s reforms made him potentially more dangerous than his predecessors. He was, said Brent Scowcroft, Mr Bush’s national security adviser, “trying to smother us with kindness”.