Tag Archives: autobiography

Book Review – Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist

himynameislocoHi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist is  part memoir, part social commentary written by fellow Japan resident Baye McNeil.  He talks about his experiences ranging from his childhood in New York, his time in the Army, and teaching English in Japan.  But throughout this book, there is one common theme: racism.

He starts the book off with something most foreigners in Japan experience, the empty seat on a train.  It’s quite obvious that the reason is that he’s a black man in the homogeneous Japanese culture.  He returns to the empty seat several times throughout the book, sometimes as an enemy, sometimes as a friend.  He talks about his experience with racism not only in Japan, but also growing up and living in pre-911 New York.  But it’s not all about racism against him, it’s more about how he and everyone else in the world has some degree of racism within them.  Everyone judges others in some way based on their race.  I understand what he’s talking about, although his experiences are far more difficult than I’ve experienced.

It all sounds very serious, but Baye uses a lot of humour in his writing.  There are several conversations with a Japanese person throughout the book, many times humourous, but also perplexing. It shows how many people in Japan have such little experience with cultures outside Japan, they don’t understand a foreigner’s point of view.

I found his childhood experience growing up in New York to be fascinating.  It’s totally outside of my own experiences that I found it engrossing.  I learned a lot about life in 1980s New York City, at least his life.  His writing made it vivid.  I could picture everything he described, I felt like I was with him.  I could sense his feelings during his childhood, his time in the Army, his experiences dating with someone of a different race, and most of all, Aiko.  It was an emotional roller coaster.

The writing style is pretty conversational, and he sometimes rambled on quite a bit.  But it was natural sounding and very candid.  I felt like he was opening himself up to anyone who reads this.  You not only learn about him, but I think you also learn a bit about yourself while reading.  It forces you to think about whether you are racist, even a tiny little bit.

I would recommend this to a variety of people, those who live in Japan, those who are interested in racial relations, and those who enjoy autobiographies.  It’s a great read, and a great debut book.  Highly recommended.  I’d give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

10 Questions with Baye McNeil

Welcome to my new regular series, 10 Questions.  It’s a series of brief 10 question interviews with authors I may or may not have read.  In this first installment, I’m honoured to have a fellow resident of Japan answer my questions.

Baye McNeil, known for his blog, Loco in Yokohama, his first book, Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist, and his new upcoming book, Loco in Yokohama, lives not so far from me, and has a lot to say about his experience being a foreigner in Japan.  I recommend subscribing to him on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Pinterest. So, without further ado (I know, this is cliche), here’s the interview.

1. What’s your favourite colour?

Blue

2. What’s your favourite food? Do you like Marmite?

Lasagna. No, can’t say I do.

3. Which country would you most like to visit?

Tanzania

4. What genres do you like to read?

Biography, autobiography, sci-fi

5. If you were going to write a book outside your genre(s), which genre would you choose?

Sci-fi

6. Describe your writing environment, including room, desk, sounds, etc.

I generally write in a tiny cubicle in an Internet cafe.

7. If you could have dinner with any character (person if non-fiction) from any book, who would it be?

Grand Admiral Thrawn from the Heir to the Empire Star Wars books by Timothy Zahn…or maybe Hermione Granger from the Potter books.

8.  Do you write from experience or expert knowledge?

Both.

9. Do you ever read self-published books?

Yes.

10. I’m interested in fantasy, science fiction, history, and classics. Which author’s books would you recommend to me?

Anything by Timothy Zahn and you can’t lose.

Thank you, Baye!  I’d like to add a little here.  I do have Timothy Zahn’s first Star Wars book listed as ‘to buy’ on Goodreads, so I am quite interested. And Hermione was always my favourite from Harry Potter.  Also, I have finished reading Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist, and a review will be coming soon.

I will have another interview next week, this time an author who likes dark fantasy and horror.

My book plans, part 1

I started this blog for several reasons, but the biggest reason is writing.  I thought it was about time I talk about my planned books.  In this post, I will talk briefly about the book I have started writing.

Currently untitled, my first book will be part autobiographical, part cultural examination.  I will be focusing on only one aspect of my life, my time in Japan, and compare the cultures of Japan and Canada.  I’ll use my experiences to describe the differences and similarities between Canada and Japan, while also showing some of my surprising, shocking, funny, and amazing times here.

I can’t say much, because I don’t want to give anything away.  But I will tell you more as I write.  Of course, I will be including my experiences during the earthquake last year, climbing Mt. Fuji, as well as a terrible incident in a train station that I witnessed.

I hope you’ll enjoy the book as much as I’m enjoying writing it.