Issue 068
April, 25, 2022

New Essay in The New York Times

The Kii Peninsula, in photos and text

Roden readers —

This is one of those issues where I mainly just shut up and point you elsewhere.

So — it’s with great excitement that I get to share with you a new text + photo essay of mine in The New York Times: “A Long Walk in a Fading Corner of Japan”

1,000 words or so, 20 photographs. I believe it’s the first time “I was pantsless.” has been on the site.

In January, I noticed The Times had been running a new photography travel series since covid lockdown began: “The World Through a Lens.” I also noticed there had yet to be a Japan entry. So I poked the editors. Sent three pitches, and they took Kii.

It’s a bit strange to have this come out. The current book I’m working on takes place entirely in / around the Kii Peninsula. I’ve been living so fully in that world for the past four months that, in many ways, the publishing of this article makes me feel tremendously exposed. In other ways I’m tremendously excited. The text of this piece was massaged out of some book snippets (rewritten with additional details and expository handles making it a bit more sensible to a broader audience). But I’ve managed to sneak into this piece more of the tone / vibe of the book than I expected.

And, naturally, the photographs are a selection from the book.

That said: Although the book shares subject matter with this article, it’s a very different beast. It has shifted from pure peninsula vignettes (based on my Where are all the Nightingales? letters last year), to something closer to auto-fiction, to — with some reluctance but eventual acceptance of what the thing, the story, was demanding — something closer in spirit to a memoir. See, even now I can’t write it straight: It’s a freggin’ memoir. Not a full-on My Struggle Knausgård therapy mind-dump, but a select slice of childhood, as filtered through / amplified by the Kii Peninsula.

I’ve sent 75 (!) issues of my Nightingalingale writing diary (originally only supposed to be 21 issues — ha ha!) to SPECIAL PROJECTS members thus far, and they’ve been able to follow along in the (abstract) evolution of the book. I’ve got about ten working days left to finish up this new draft and get it to a few readers before I head off on a month of travel in Europe (which includes a long-postponed group walk through the British countryside, and wedding(s?) in Italy; my first time getting on an international flight in twenty-seven months; also the source of much stress and anxiety). I’m also working on getting a new photographic print up before I leave. Busy (but good!!) days.

Alright, I blabbed more than expected. Please, go check out the piece, and if you dig it, please consider sharing it. And, if you feel especially brave, consider leaving a nice note in the comments section.

Back to the mines over here. Prints to be made and books to be revised.