Thursday, December 12, 2013

Red Chrysanthemum-Henry F. Mazel

Red Chrysanthemum-Henry F. Mazel

the facts
satisfaction: up/side
pages: 179
gender: M
nationality: USA
year: 2013

Alexander Rada doesn’t want to be called Alexander, or Alex for that matter -- Rada will do just fine. It’s the summer of 1945, and army Lieutenant Rada has just arrived in Tokyo to witness the official surrender of Japan to the Allied Forces on the deck of the battleship Missouri. Rada has a history. He was a cop in L.A. before the war. A disgraced cop. Along the way, he learned to speak Japanese, and now he’s working at GHQ as a translator for General MacArthur. To almost everyone’s surprise, Rada is transferred to the military police to stop an assassination of a top communist. And the thing is, Rada just hates communists. He finds himself attached to a Japanese partner working for the Occupation forces -- and even more attached to a unique, beautiful Japanese woman. Love is in the air, and Rada is bound to mess it up.

Let's be frank, when I started this I wasn't sure I would be reading it through to the end because there was just something about the style of the writing that failed to grab me but I looked at the slimness and pushed through. The story itself just scooped me up and transported me away from my reader's skepticism, suspended my belief, and I ended up speeding right along. I mean, Rada is just not very likeable for me and so I didn't care about him. And the details seemed a bit light on the ground. While Mazel describes the aftermath of the war on Tokyo, he does so through the entirely self-centered viewpoint of Rada who doesn't seem to care about the city. Rada instead engages into exoticism-seeing the Japanese women as objects; an attitude I tire of in less than a minute and thus I could not enjoy the novel as much. Perhaps Mazel wrote it too well.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. "He instead engages into exoticism-seeing the Japanese women as objects . . ."

    I've never responded to a review before, but the novel is not presentist; nor should it be. It's 1945 (in Japan, yet), and the attitude you speak of was ubiquitous.

    Henry F. Mazel (

    1. Hi Mr. Mazel, I did not mean to imply that it was a flaw of the author or that you are prone to exoticism but merely pointed out it was the reason I could not enjoy it as much as I'dve liked given that the plot was so engrossing. Nonetheless, I appreciate your comment.