Shimoda, Todd 1955- (Adrian Too)
SHIMODA, Todd 1955- (Adrian Too)
PERSONAL: Born 1955, in Fort Collins, CO; married; wife's name Linda J. C. (an artist). Education: Colorado State University, B.S. (civil engineering), 1977, M.S. (technical communication), 1991; University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. (science and mathematics education), 1991.
CAREER: Educator, civil engineer, and writer. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, assistant professor.
AWARDS, HONORS: The Fourth Treasure won first place at the 2003 New York Book Show and was a 2002 Kiriyama Prize Competition notable book.
Altered Egos (stories), illustrated by L. J. C. Shimoda, self-published, 1990.
"—Excellent Communications Skills Required" for Engineering Managers, ASCE Press (New York, NY), 1994.
365 Views of Mt. Fuji: Algorithms of the Floating World (novel), illustrated by L. J. C. Shimoda, Stone Bridge Press (Berkeley, CA), 1998.
The Fourth Treasure (novel), illustrated by L. J. C. Shimoda, Nan A. Talese (New York, NY), 2002.
Also author of academic and technical articles. Short fiction published in anthologies, including Tilted Planet Tales 2, 1985; contributor of stories to Salon. com under pseudonym Adrian Too.
SIDELIGHTS: Todd Shimoda is a third-generation Japanese American, or sansei, on his father's side, with his mother being of French, English, and German descent. He has lived most of his life in the western United States, as well as in Mexico and Japan. He met his wife, artist L. J. C. Shimoda, in Austin, Texas, and she illustrated Shimoda's debut novel, 365 Views of Mt. Fuji: Algorithms of the Floating World.
The novel's narrator is Keizo Yukawa, who lives a Westernized life in Tokyo with a performance artist whose costume transforms her into a pink, glazed doughnut. When Keizo is offered the position of curator at a provincial museum, he gladly accepts. The museum's collection consists of the 365 views of Fuji, painted by an artist unacknowledged in his own time, but whose works are an obsession of the somewhat mad Ono family who owns most of them.
The illustrations are integral to the story, as are the marginal notes. "Typically the artwork is suggestive, hip, even haunting," said Rod Kessler in Review of Contemporary Fiction. "The novel explores what it means to be creative and unique in Japan, today and during the late shogunate."
Phoebe-Lou Adams wrote in Atlantic Monthly that the "whole complicated tale is a metaphor" that communicates Shimoda's take on Japanese society as a combination of incompatible modern and traditional elements "that create psychological civil war in its citizens. If the novel's purpose is grim, its action is lively and the symbolism is provocative."
Linda J. C. Shimoda also provided the artwork for her husband's second novel, The Fourth Treasure, the story of a calligraphy teacher who loses his ability to write and speak clearly; an immigrant woman who studied under the former head of the Daizen school in Kyoto; and her fatherless daughter. Tina is a graduate student studying neuroscience at Berkeley, and daughter of Hanako, a waitress suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). Tina's boyfriend is learning shodo, or calligraphy, from Kiichi Shimano, sensei of the Zenzen School of Calligraphy, when the teacher suffers a debilitating stroke. Shimano's calligraphy becomes so confusing that even his best student, Gozen, can no longer decipher it. The teacher becomes the subject of Tina's studies, over the objections of her mother, who is hiding her MS and other secrets from the past.
The fourth treasure of the title is the Daizen Inkstone, which disappeared when Shimano left Kyoto. The other three are the brush, the ink stick, and the paper. In telling the story, Shimoda goes back to the seventeenth century, tracing the stone's history.
"The Fourth Treasure is designed to meld Shimoda's Japanese heritage with his penchant for so-called 'postmodern' conceits," said Village Voice contributor Roland Kelts. "Notes from a shodo instruction manual and a neuroscience textbook, together with poetic-sounding snippets from the recesses of the sensei's dreams, run down the margins in delicate typeface. Kanji, Japanese characters, appear in the margins courtesy of Linda. But the trained (or native) eye will quickly note distinctive idiosyncrasies in an art form known for its rigid formality. The kanji are frequently lopsided and expressionistic, and grow more so with the sensei's demented mind."
"The fates of Tina, her self-sacrificing mother, the silent teacher and certain other players tie up as neatly as treasures bound in a furoshiki scarf," wrote Kai Maristed in Los Angeles Times Book Review. "The confident reach of this text-plus-visual-aids is prodigious, exhilarating, and provocative. If you read it, you may turn the last page and absorb the final hieroglyph only reluctantly."
Peter Gordon noted in Asian Review of Books that "in addition to being an experiment in artistic fusion and a discourse on current developments in neuroscience, The Fourth Treasure is also a novel about love and multicultural synthesis." Booklist's Kristine Huntley called it an "elegant and intricate" and "sophisticated, beautifully illustrated novel."
"Calligraphy serves as a meta-metaphor throughout this book," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor, "which, much like a calligraphic kanji symbol, is deliberately composed stroke by stroke. . . . Shimoda has penned a skillful meditation on both art and life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic Monthly, October 1, 1998, Phoebe-Lou Adams, review of 365 Views of Mt. Fuji: Algorithms of the Floating World, p. 116.
Booklist, May 1, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of The Fourth Treasure, p. 1510.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of The Fourth Treasure, p. 449.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 3, 2002, Kai Maristed, review of The Fourth Treasure, p. E3.
Publishers Weekly, August 3, 1998, review of 365 Views of Mt. Fuji, p. 77; April 15, 2002, review of The Fourth Treasure, p. 41.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, fall, 1998, Rod Kessler, review of 365 Views of Mt. Fuji, p. 256.
San Francisco Chronicle, June 4, 2002, Anneli Rufus, review of The Fourth Treasure, p. D5.
Asian Review of Books,http://www.asianreviewofbooks.com/ (May 30, 2002), Peter Gordon, review of The Fourth Treasure.
Metropolis,http://www.metropolis.co.jp/ (July 19, 2002), interview with Shimoda.
Todd Shimoda Home Page,http://www.shimodaworks.com (December 9, 2002).
Village Voice Online,http://www.villagevoice.com/ (May 15, 2002), Roland Kelts, "Sensei and Sensibility."