17 November 2011
Post 448: The Printmaker's Daughter
There has been some not-so-recent kvetching about the trend of titles with [Occupation]'s [Female Relative]. I agree, there are a lot of more of them than there probably ought to be, especially considering there aren't many male-titled counterparts. But in this case, I think it was appropriate. Mostly because Ei* never really got out from under her father's influence and reputation. The other reason is because this book is more about her relationship with her father: even after he dies she struggles to form her identity without him. In the novel, Ei's father is not an easy man to get along with. He is selfish and has affected mannerisms (such as refusing to count money), which prevent Ei from having a healthy and respectful relationship with him. Despite this, she recognizes how much he has taught her and reflects on this throughout the novel.
My own relationship with my father, as much as it pains me to say so, continues to influence who I am and how I view myself. In the past I have been the daughter of a reasonably successful restaurant owner. Then he sold his share in the restaurant and my mother joined the military. This reduced me to being the daughter of a man with erratic employment. Currently I am the daughter of an unemployed man with bladder cancer who hasn't called me in about 8 months. That he has been an unsuccessful and miserable lump of a human being for most of my life has not weighed lightly on me, especially given my own ongoing inability to obtain a motherfucking J-O-B.
One of the most painful things about being unemployed is that I in no way want to be associated with my father, and yet our circumstances are not terribly different at the moment. I imagine it is difficult for people not to conclude that it was only logical I should end up in a similar situation, especially given my brother has also seemingly followed in my father's footsteps.
Yet, the three of us have gotten there in very different ways. While I'm not going to say I ended up where I am now through absolutely no fault of my own, I will say that much of my situation is due to prolonged hope that I would eventually get a good job in a terrible economy. Had I realized how optimistic I was being, I would have signed up for a temp agency from day one and applied to countless numbers of shitty jobs in between applying for the more desirable jobs. But I didn't do that, because who could fathom that someone who has done everything else right would be unemployed for two years?
Meanwhile, both my brother and my father seem to be able to find employment if they want it. My brother has a criminal record for throwing bricks into a former employer's window, and possibly other charges I don't know about. My father has been known to walk off of jobs or become so erratic in his performance that the company has to fire him. They can get these jobs, but they usually can't keep them. Whereas I am so fed up with looking for work that I would practically consider it a vacation to work even the lowest of jobs. Yes, right now working at McDonald's sounds like it might be a bit of heaven.
At least for the first month.
My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: Review copy provided by Netgalley.
*Her name in the book is represented as "Ei" but more commonly seems to appear as Katsushika Oi, the daughter of Hokusai.