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Lions Roar : July 2013
Reviews COLLAGEBYMEGUMIYOSHIDA/SOURCEPRINTBYKATSUSHIKAHOKUSAI INSPIRED WRITERS ARE THE ONES WHO walk sideways to what most would consider the “real” world. At their best they can portray the confusion that life is and make it feel more real than reality. Ruth Ozeki, a recently ordained Zen priest, is still very much with this world, yet a spiritual benevolence invests her novels with kindness. In 1999 Ozeki wrote the bestselling My Year of Meats, a romp through Japanese and American culture and an attack on the American beef industry and its talent for scary hormones, such as DES, and feeding rendered animal products to herbivores like beef cattle. It’s the story of an androgynous six-foot-tall documentary filmmaker rescued from poverty by a job directing a Japanese TV show, My American Wife. She soon learns, however, that this show is not about shining a light on American culture but rather luring more Japanese viewers into eating potentially tainted beef. My Year of Meats integrates multiple viewpoints, fascinating and sometimes flaky characters based on real people, and current political issues. This previewed an approach that would grow through Ozeki’s ensuing novels, All Over Creation and, now, A Tale for the Time Being. All Over Creation tackles farming and genetic modification. A group of dedicated anti-GMO radicals who call themselves Seeds and drive a biofuel car they’ve named “spudnick,” which they run on liberated McDonald’s french-fry oil, move onto the farm of two traditional older farmers they admire—Lloyd and Momoko Fuller. Momoko is suffering from Alzheimer’s and Lloyd rapidly develops heart troubles. Their daughter, Yumi, A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING By Ruth Ozeki Viking 2013; 432 pp., $28.95 (cloth) Lost in Time REVIEWED BY BRIAN BRETT SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 75