Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Month: June 2018

Culture Shock! Korea — Chock Full of Information!

51qWk-TyQHL._SY346_

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte Ltd
  • Date: February 7, 2018

I’ll never forget when I first came to Korea in 1990 to teach English, my school sent me an information packet about the school and Korea. Specifically, it was mostly badly photo-copied material about what I should or shouldn’t bring to Korea as well as adjusting to culture shock (People will stare at you and bump into you when you’re walking down the street). It was useful information when you’re halfway around the world planning to live and work in Korea, but a few days after arriving, it was useless information and soon discarded.

Since that time, there have been various books and guides about living and working in Korea to help foreigners to make those necessary adjustments to overcome culture shock, but none resonate more strongly than John Bocskay’s Culture Shock! Korea.

This well-written and insightful book is chock full of information that would appeal not only to someone coming to Korea for the first time, but for the seasoned Korean old hat who wants to brush up on his or her Korean cultural knowledge (for example, I had forgotten all about bringing toilet paper as a housewarming gift!). To be sure, for this twenty-seven year and counting expatriate, I had a fun time reading this book and remembering what it was like when I first came here.

I especially enjoyed, and this is one of the book’s strengths, Bocskay’s explanation of Korean culture and how it applies to one’s daily life or sojourn here. That alone makes this a worthwhile investment. I liked Bocskay’s casual writing style and the way that he brings Korean culture alive. He covers the gamut of things Korean and how to survive in this dynamic and interesting culture. Whether you have just arrived in Korea or have been in Korea for a while, you are going to want to get this book. This book is an indispensable trove of information that will make anyone’s visit or sojourn here more enjoyable.

The Freedman — Book Review

619Px4hNVhLI’ve been a big fan of Lars Hedbor ever since I read his first book, The Prize. What first impressed me was his style of writing that captured this period of American history. I’ve often compared him to another one of my favorite writers, who also wrote about this period, James Fenimore Cooper.

His latest, The Freedman, is another literary tour de force. Of all the books in this series, I would have to say this is the most thoughtful and poignant, not to mention powerful. It’s an issue which would plague the United States from early colonial America and the Civil War to Reconstruction and beyond. But what makes this all the more powerful is the way that Hedbor tells the story of Calabar, a slave who has gained his freedom and sets out on a new journey through life.

In language that is just as evocative as it is dramatic, Calabar’s life, filled with trials and tribulations, is a stirring testament to those former slaves who endeavored for the same freedom and independence the same way the colonies did—a path which began with Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words, “All Men Are Created Equal.”

Pachinko, A Literary Triumph!

51mulp7HJ+LIn the spirit of Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy, Pachinko is a beautifully written story about the sweeping four-generation history and saga of a Korean family in Japan. In a story filled with forbidden love, triumph and failure, and the need to belong, author Min Jin Lee sheds light on a subject not normally explored by novelists—the plight of Korean immigrants in Japan. In rich, evocative language, Lee takes the reader on an emotional, amazing journey through the Japanese occupation of Korea, post World War II, the Korean War, and modern Korean society.

At the center of this moving story is the heroine Sunja, the family matriarch who will stop at nothing to ensure the survival of her family. She is the embodiment of the struggles that many Koreans faced during this period who found themselves exiled from their homeland and the yearning to return to it one day. The depth and empathy of her story, as well as other members of her family, is just as haunting as it is moving.

Pachinko is a literary triumph; a readable, passionate story that will resonate with readers long after they have finished it

Roadside Table — One Mile Ahead

Today I was thinking about roadside tables. Remember them? This was not a rest area with all the amenities (grills, restrooms, running water, and a possibly a playground for the kids).

A roadside table was that. Just a picnic table or two and a trashcan. Usually at some junction/intersection where a family could enjoy a picnic lunch before continuing their journey.

Once all the interstates and expressways came in, and folks started whizzing across the United States, there was no need to pack a picnic basket. That’s when the Golden Arches and all the other fast food drive-ins dotted the landscape.

But if you ever took the backroads, you could still find these roadsign tables. This was not life in the fast lane. This was all about taking your time to get somewhere.

My grandparents, if they went anywhere over fifty miles, packed a picnic basket. I suppose, on one hand, it saved money and time looking for someplace to eat.

10,000 words

Just passed 10,000 words on my current WIP. The first 10,000 words are the always the hardest. I seem to be slowing down a little. Either that, I am taking more time (this is probably the real reason) for writing out particular scenes…and don’t forget I am still writing out the first draft by hand.

My goal is to finish this current novel by the end of this summer. Or as Slim Pickens playing Colonel Kong in Dr. Strangelove put it, “Now let’s get this thing on the hump — we got some flyin’ to do!”

© 2019 Jeffrey Miller

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑