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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.
knee, and brushed repeatedly at his boot heel, although it was clean. “The baby isn’t born yet and the house already feels crowded. Akiko never complains, but just looking at her makes me uncomfortable.” He let go of his foot; the boot banged loudly against the bar. “You coming from practice?” “Yessir.” “I could understand if you were going to use it. On DeVito-san, say.” He jumped down from the bar to answer the phone. Ransom ordered a cup of tea. When Miles came back, Ransom asked him if he
little and fainting, and eating too much and puking. An hour and twenty minutes left. Ransom sat cross-legged at the table and tweezed grains of rice from the side of the bowl with his chopsticks. The master swordsmen and karate-ka of old were said to be able to pluck flies out of the air with theirs. The bowls washed, he rummaged in the desk drawer for the bound typescript of his father’s play. Ransom had tried to read it several times in the past year, getting no farther than the first act,
random juvenile delinquency. Among the shoes at the men’s entrance to the public bath were a pair of Italianate lizard loafers. Ransom left his sneakers beside them. He paid the old woman for the bath and accessories and took a basket for his clothes. Inside the bath chamber, two heavily tattooed men were squatting on the tiles along the row of faucets. Ransom sat down a few faucets away. Today the yakuza did not seem as quaint as in the past. He heard the word gaijin several times. He ignored
place. He wished he could join her there. He shook more powder from the packet into the spoon. When the powder had melted, he put the spoon down on the pallet. He drew the liquid into the syringe, then held it up to look for bubbles. He missed the vein on the first try. His hands were shaking. When he tried to pull it out a peak of white flesh rose around the needle. He clutched her elbow tighter. The second time the needle slipped easily into the vein. He raised his thumb and depressed the
same,” he murmured. “I’ll tell you. The fact that you’d try to manipulate me this way—I wish I could say it wasn’t in character. But what I can’t figure out is what you hoped to accomplish. Did you really think you’d get me back to the States? Or did you just want to prove to me that I couldn’t get away from you?” “I take it you’ve talked to Marilyn?” “Try not to be slick for once in your life. What exactly was in your mind when you dreamed this one up?” “If we’re talking about the same