Tag Archives: Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist

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.

Reading Indie Books

People question why anyone would want to read an indie book, also known as self-publishing.  With the new age of e-publishing and Amazon making it extremely easy for anyone to publish a book, completely bypassing the traditional publisher, it makes people wonder if the quality is even good.  I would say that they’re right to question the quality.  I often do, too. However, I want to support indie authors.  There are some surprisingly good books that usually go completely unnoticed.

I have already reviewed an indie book on here, and am currently reading two others. The ones that I’m reading are completely different.  One is in print, the other is an ebook.

The print book I’m reading is Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist. It’s written by Baye McNeil, also known as Loco in the world of Japan blogs. I’ve been reading his blog for quite some time, and so I bought an autographed hard copy of his book earlier this year.  I’m reading it slower than I should.  I read it at home, where my daughter often doesn’t let me read anything.  However, what I’ve read so far is very good.  Baye is a very talented writer and author. One of these days, I think I’ll have to make it to a tweet-up that he’s attending.

The other book I’m reading is Voidhawk by Jason Halstead.  I’m reading it on my iPhone with the Kindle app.  This book is an interested one.  It has a unique premise, high fantasy involving elves, dwarves, mages, battles on wooden ships, pirates and more, but all of it is in space.  It’s not high tech.  In fact, it seems completely magical.  This is actually the first indie novel I’ve read, and I’m enjoying it so far.  It’s got a sense of humour to it, so I can’t completely take it seriously.  There are editing issues, such as typos and formatting problems, but it doesn’t detract from my reading experience.  It’s not an amazing book, but it is a fun read so far.  Also, this book is available for free!  You have nothing to lose by trying it.  You may like it. Unfortunately, I’ve been taking my time with this book.  I’ve been reading paper books during my free time on the train and my lunch break at work, while Voidhawk has been what I read when I have to stand on the train.  Bad excuse, but I hope to devote more time to it. When I finish it, I’ll be writing a review.

I have downloaded many other books to my phone, though I haven’t read them yet.  I will review all of them as I finish them.  It’ll be interesting to see how good or bad some of these books are, but I want to give them all a try.

On a somewhat related topic, ebooks are a great way to read classics for free.  As they are no longer copyrighted and in the public domain, they are available for free in ebook format.  Many you can even read on your computer.  But as far as Shakespeare is concerned, I’d prefer to have a paper copy with good explanatory notes.  I’m not so sure if electronic forms of Shakespearean plays have that.

Are you reading indie books?  Please leave a comment and tell me why you do or don’t read indie books.