Sunday, 2 September 2012

New Edition of The Plum Rains

The Liffey Press in Ireland has just published my book, THE PLUM RAINS, as a paperback and e-book.

Here's part of what The Irish Times said about the book:

‘Givens is not just a gifted storyteller – these stories are freighted with a deep knowledge and cultural understanding of Japan; he was a student of its art and literature in both Kyoto and Tokyo and lived in Japan for 12 years. . . . The Plum Rains doesn’t confine itself to poetry and there are glimpses into the pleasure quarters of the “floating world”, monasteries, and, occasionally, the rigours of Zen Buddhism. Indeed many of the stories function as modernised versions of Buddhist debate dialogue and have something of the koan clarity about them. Givens’s prose and dialogues are so authentic that it’s almost as if these stories were handed down or were translated from original sources.’  – Joseph Woods, The Irish Times

>> Learn more at The Liffey Press  

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A Friend in the Police

A middle-aged American businessman arrives in an unnamed Southeast Asian country to retrieve his wayward son. George Bates finds himself confronted by a climate and culture more bizarre than he could have anticipated, and by the mysterious Detective Sergeant Xlong, whose own background is even more tangled than the American’s, and whose fecund language reflects the lush ambiguity of the tropical rain forest. Mr. Bates is soon lost in a complex, hallucinatory world that resembles a rewrite of The Heart of Darkness by Franz Kafka.
A Friend in the Police is often spoken of by veteran authors as the book they wish they had written. Newly revised by the author, this Concord ePress ebook is the first widely available edition of an admired cult novel.
>> Buy the e-book now at Amazon

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Silver Jaguar

"You had seemed hollowed-out on your wedding day, Jane, a slender and coolly efficient bride effacing herself, refusing the hypocrisy of a wedding veil and wearing no jewelry, not even earrings, as if trusting in the nakedness of your small face, your throat exposed helplessly as you came forward alone up the center aisle of the church, carrying only single, self-conscious calla lily, the bride who was being given away by no one, unwilling to compromise even that much although of course just before the ceremony you had called me over and asked mischievously if I had hoped to occupy the role of proud father and deliver you myself…"
>> Read the story in Drunken Boat

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Short Stories Set in Edo Japan

The Plantain
“A large plantain rested on a bullock dray. Its fronds were bundled up and tied with rice-straw ropes, and its root-ball was wound with another rope and decorated with a few celebratory sprigs of fern fronds and strips of white blessing paper cunningly folded.…”
>> Read the story in Necessary Fiction

The Plum Rains
“She came back alone after first prayers and slid open her white paper doors. Misty drizzle filled the dense cedar forest surrounding the nunnery. The inside walls of her room were tacky with the damp, the tatami mats slick with it, and a faint gray-green dusting furred the brocade mat-bindings. It was a tired season, a time of melancholy wistfulness.…” 
>> Read the story in Wag’s Revue

“Old Master Bashō was dead, and he had left behind no leader with sufficient stature to sustain his manner. The gate would be shut, house shutters attached, and haikai poets who had once sought his advice and approval would disperse like dry leaves blown in an autumn gale.…”
>> Read the story in Cerise Press

Bushclover and the Moon 
“The Lesser Tada’s assignations teahouse had been among the first to promote young serving maids as peony girls, selecting those with a lively manner and sweet disposition, outfitting them in gaudy robes then encouraging them to feel emotions and share their feelings widely.…”
>> Read the story in Cerise Press

The Black Feathers Road 
“The Hell-kite wanted to talk about technique. He said he had a sense of how to fight with a long sword but wasn’t sure if his style looked right. What he needed to know was the correct method for delivering a killing blow. He showed him what he meant, carving great sloppy arcs in the air with his naked blade and delighted by the display until Hasegawa told him he looked like a drunken farmer swinging a grain-flail.…” 
>> Read the story in Eclectica 

Solitary Rambler On the Withered Moor 
“The disgraced samurai and the weedy little pleasure provider matched each other stanza for stanza; and while Hasegawa’s reading of old poetry anthologies resulted in links that reverberated with the muted echos of ancient temple bells, Ohasu was the one who found a surprising new music in the patterns emerging.…” 
>> Read the story in Connotation Press

The Palace Orphan 
“The rogue samurai said he did not believe that there was a place for him other than the one he occupied. He said he awoke to the sun in the morning and went to sleep with the moon at night. He said he’d heard things said. Promises and justifications and warnings. But he’d never found anything he thought more true than the simple assurance that when spring comes, grass grows by itself.…”  
>> Read the story in Prime Number