The Six-Foot Bonsai
by Stacy Gleiss
This is unlike most books about the Western infatuation with Japan, but the story is so deeply buried it would take a well-invested reader to dig it out. Michigan-born Stacy Gleiss finds herself intoxicated with the country after a summer exchange in 1980 that ends with her meeting, on her return to the United States, a Japanese college student going to Louisiana to study English. The pair end up marrying when she is 18, and moving to Sado island. Early signs hint that theirs won’t be a happy marriage, most glaring of which is her discovery of his collection of child pornography. But he sees it as art and argues that similar material is widely available. Regardless, Gleiss has two children by the man and often leaves them in his care. While sad, her narrative lacks focus, although she pins it on her being “a soul lost in the Land of the Rising Sun”. Clichés aside, The Six-Foot Bonsai has valid points to make about Japan. But Gleiss needs to work out what she wants to say about a culture that makes her want to be pruned in an unnatural way.