100% POSITIVE REVIEW OF LA CARMINA'S BIZARRE TOKYO THEME RESTAURANTS BOOK IN VANCOUVER SUN NEWSPAPER.
The first professional review of my new book, Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants, was published today in the Vancouver Sun… and they like it, they really like it! Lucy Hyslop writes: “Think of it less as a guidebook and more as a ghost train ride where whimsical, madcap and absurd images of some 30 theme restaurants materialize at every turn” … “her tales flow effortlessly, with erudite explanations of what she sees in Tokyo’s many subcultures.”
The article includes a photo of Gothic Carmina and Yukiro Dravarious, glittered up as the Cheshire Cat for our Alice in Wonderland excursion. You can read the book review above, below and here; for more info and to purchase my book, click here. Thank you so much for your support – I make a shout-out to my readers in the Acknowledgements!
Tour the bizarre eateries of Tokyo with La Carmina
The well-educated Vancouver blogger continues to be fascinated by Japanese kitsch
BY LUCY HYSLOP, SPECIAL TO THE SUN | AUGUST 1, 2009
To get a handle on Carmen Yuen, the Vancouver author who blogs as La Carmina, you need only read the acknowledgments in her latest book: “To the fam, for unconditionally supporting my bizarre lifestyles and adventures in book-writing.”
Vancouver Sun readers were first introduced to these when she conjured up a little kawaii (Japanese for “cute”) magic, transforming rice, vegetables and ponzu sauce into a mouse during an interview last year.
Now she further explores her fascination with all things Japanese and offbeat (her first book was called The Cosmos in a Carrot: A Zen Guide to Eating Well) in Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo. Think of it less as a guidebook and more as a ghost train ride where whimsical, madcap and absurd images of some 30 theme restaurants materialize at every turn: Vampire (food in the shape of bats, coffins, crosses), Curl Up (a cat café that broadcasts bird videos), Ninja (a cocktail in a goldfish bowl), Alice in Wonderland (more Tim Burton’s version, with weird morsels shaped like caterpillars) and Wizard of the Opera (ostentatious candelabras).
Continuing her trademark style of never overwriting (or “memory dumping,” in Internet parlance) on her two-million-hits-a-month blog (Lacarmina.com), her accompanying short stories are droll. Some are presented as interviews with the characters she encounters and the people with whom she dines (her Tokyo “spooks”); others are in the form of fictional letters between La Carmina, a Yale Law School graduate, and a disapproving aunt who would rather she followed a more traditional path (she is second-generation Chinese-Canadian) than this curious Japanese-y one.
Her tales flow effortlessly, with erudite explanations of what she sees in Tokyo’s many subcultures. For example, she considers why Christon Café — a Jesus-themed eatery — is not regarded as blasphemous. (Partly because the restaurant is so over-the-top; partly because of the short history of Christianity in Japan.)
Brace yourself for a kitsch fix in Crazy, Wacky — and, for that matter, for her third book, Cute Yummy Time (Perigee), which has already been mentioned in The New Yorker in advance of its October release.
Then, take La Carmina’s advice: Just roll with it.
Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo comes from Mark Batty Publisher (96 pages, $33.50) and is available from Chapters, Amazon and other retailers.
(Lucy Hyslop is a Vancouver freelance writer and an organizer of last weekend’s Port Eliot Literary Festival in Cornwall, England.)