anyway, not to be too change-of-topic:
http://www.salon.com/2013/06/02/bret_easton_ellis_interviews_matthew_specktor_people_in_l_a_arent_afraid_to_read/ (WP skeptical that Specktor is a Notable Writer, btw)
okay quick story, since I've been selfishly spamming the site for a few days. sometimes somebody runs into you on the street and so you get all the gossip that has been stored up for a few years. the theme of this data d/load is "fate's arrow?" -->
once upon a time there were two people arriving in japan around 2006 to take up a job teaching English.
Alfa was a "texanette," a small but athletic girl who was proud of her home state and took pride in her combination of analytical talent and social popularity. She was the class president of her high school, a private school in the San Antonio region, and she played lacrosse well enough to get nationally ranked, if not very high. (like #583 of her age cohort in the country). her parents were lawyers, they had two Mercedes benzes, and from age seven to age twenty-five she had known nothing but success and being at the top of the social pyramid. so okay, texas is not connecticut, and an S500 is not a bentley; a mcmansion in san antonio is not a castle in yorkshire. but, by all measures, very high social elite.
Charlie was Ting Rong Ding, the Malaysian who nobody understood got the visa to teach English in Tokyo. He speakee Inglish likee dis, yeah? He say Malaysian pidgin gud az British English you no can . iz not dialect but gud regional inglish wid own grammar. u thinkee u bettah 'cuz u english in book?
now as you can imagine alpha and charlie lived in very different expat worlds. somebody organized a football tournament I don't think charlie even got the email. a beach blast was held in two or three summer weekends, and of course alpha had her pick of which to attend or not, making by her attendance the one she went to the "cool" one. charlie went around spikin' ching-chong changlish for sixd ord seben months, and I think mostly the foreigners in Tokyo avoided him--at least the aussies and brits and californians, though of course there is no exact demarcating line, it was just a matter of whether you felt more comfortable a fellow member of a developed country or you preferred charlie ting rong's unique experiences in the japan nightclub.
fast forward ten years.
Alfa has completed her doctorate, gotten married (a socially high individual from a professional Minnnesota family), is doing clinical research and some patient care. she has a number of papers out and is board-certified, making a good living.... yet, strangely... she seems at times troubled or disappointed in some way. there is this faint air about her, not entirely having to do with her specialty (mental health), of things going well... but not exactly as dreamed about.
well Charlie! mr. Charlie has dated and then married a japanese girl--not a Tokyo University graduate, but still a regional school; they have land outside osaka, a famous soba restaurant; charlie runs a number of town noodle night events, and he is integrated into japan, considered lucky, and he's loud and happy and boisterous.
if you had met the two people, you would have instantly picked alfa as the person to hang out with. how could a person brought up in one of san antonio's top families, with a lineage extending to the bushes and the prescotts and the astors go anything but total success?
and what value would there be in hanging out with two shoes charlie?
but that's the thing, right. alfa was already born at the top. no matter what she did, she would only just maintain her position--although collapse was also possible had she pursued some unfortunate path-- working for enron, or deciding to go into development and being shot in the congo.
for charlie, every day in tokyo was a success. getting the visa was a success. making a first world friend was a success. just talking to a japanese girl was a success. for charlie, starting as he did at the bottom of the heap, mere survival was an accomplishment
. and of course, despite his greater happiness, of course he's still socially lower than alfa. if you met Dr. Alfa in her lab coat, of course you don't know about the bottle of vodka stashed in her file cabinet. you don't know about the affairs and drama hidden behind proud WASP faces in San Antonio's elite social scene.
that is the story of alfa and charlie. now is this a book review, I dunno. maybe there is more than meets the eye. but it is a story i suppose.