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Ransom, Jay McInerney's second novel, belongs to the distinguished tradition of novels about exile. Living in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, Christopher Ransom seeks a purity and simplicity he could not find at home, and tries to exorcise the terror he encountered earlier in his travels—a blur of violence and death at the Khyber Pass.Ransom has managed to regain control, chiefly through the rigors of karate. Supporting himself by teaching English to eager Japanese businessmen, he finds company with impresario Miles Ryder and fellow expatriates whose headquarters is Buffalo Rome, a blues-bar that satisfies the hearty local appetite for Americana and accommodates the drifters pouring through Asia in the years immediately after the fall of Vietnam.Increasingly, Ransom and his circle are threatened, by everything they thought they had left behind, in a sequence of events whose consequences Ransom can forestall but cannot change.Jay McInerney details the pattern of adventure and disillusionment that leads Christopher Ransom toward an inevitable reckoning with his fate—in a novel of grand scale and serious implications.
DeVito shouted as he smashed the bricks. He held up the broken pieces for her inspection. The second stack he broke with his head. When he turned to look at her, his forehead was cut and bleeding. He smiled. “You’re hurt,” she said. He said, “But we’re having fun, aren’t we?” He allowed her to wipe the cut with the towel and then told her to set a bottle on the sawhorse. This time, he knocked the neck off without spilling a drop. When Ransom finished his run, Kaji, the landlord, was waiting
Tall guy with red hair?” Digger repeated the name several times, nodding his head gravely. “In Goa, maybe, or Katmandu?” Ransom said. “Hold on. Red hair, plays the sitar. Great sitar player. Scottish, right? Real heavy accent?” Ransom shook his head. “Pretty heavy accent. Maybe not so noticeable.” “See you around,” Ransom said. He knew it was a long shot, but he always asked. When he was halfway down the bar, Digger called out after him: “Kuta Beach, Bali?” “What?” “Did I see you there?”
“Apparently to the Japanese. It’s a question of packaging.” Shortly after he had come to Japan, Ransom had gone once to a geisha house, the guest of a rich private student. He had been fascinated and appalled. The geisha had white porcelain faces and blackened teeth. They moved like marionettes, and their voices were high, almost mechanical, like the prerecorded messages on the subways and streetcars, artificial in the extreme. The wigs, the student told him later, weighed almost ten pounds. “So
sure if he had done this for himself or for them, but he stayed in until it was no longer painful, ignoring them, their words swamped in the watery echoes, and then he stood up, walked over to the cold tub and submerged himself completely until he felt cool on the outside. Ransom picked up his gear and walked out, not looking back, though he could hear their taunts. Inspired, he towelled off and dressed quickly. There were two baskets of clothing on the floor beside the lockers, and one Funky
that you guys had a little lovers’ quarrel and that’s why she decided on a change of address. You probably don’t even know where she is.” “What if I don’t care?” “So, I was right, was I? I bet you’d start to care all over again if you thought she might come to harm. You wouldn’t like that a bit, would you? Shit, you should be grateful to old Frank. I’m kind of a matchmaker here, reviving tender feelings for your old squeeze. Anyway, there’s one reason—the health and well-being of a loved one.”