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Far Afield

Scott Brown

Publication Year: 2009

A literary comedy of manners set in a fictitious island nation in the South Pacific, somewhere between the Japan and Indonesia. It tells the story of a vacationing Asian-American journalist, Benjamin Inoue, who gets swept up into a cascading chain of events and who becomes the campaign manager of a buffoonish and megalomaniac island scion who is running against his younger brother for presidency of the small and forgotten island. Along the way, he becomes ensnared in a progression of dubious and absurdist events orchestrated by dubious and unreliable characters, all of which have their own hidden and conflicting agenda that they force Ben into serving.

Published by: Red Hen Press

Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments, Dedication

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Part One

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pp. 1-2

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pp. 3-8

I didn’t plan to go to Momo-Jima, but then no one really plans to go to Momo-Jima. The natives tell you that soon after you put down at Dunbar-dori Airport and take the short moko-moko ride to the offhand triangle of worn-out trinket shops and sad, dirty hotels in Ueda Town Center (a six-minute ride, tops). ...

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pp. 9-13

For, you see, it was a death, among other things, that led me to this island. Not the death of a loved one, or a close relative, or even anyone I’d known. No, it was a thankfully anonymous passing, but it occurred close to me—that is, the building where I live—and I was among the first to discover the body and that is its impact on me. ...

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pp. 14-19

For several days afterward, I muddled about in a pervasive gloom, riven by thoughts that were strange to me, and mostly unable to work. One night, still in the grip of my malaise, I struggled through an uneasy sleep, waking once, then again, then finally for good in the blackest part of the early morning. ...

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pp. 20-27

When I got back to my current hotel, I found the lobby empty and no one behind the front desk. Though it was not yet late afternoon, the place had taken on a deserted feel, as though all the guests had fled in my absence and now it was a just another out-of-season resort. ...

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pp. 28-39

I wish I knew what causes me to become so helpless in situations like these. Yes, I could have resisted and put up a fight but a sense of sheer futility always overcomes me just when I most need the lash of purposeful outrage. In a moment, I seem to fully understand all the long-term implications of my situation and thus am perfectly willing to quit my short-term struggling because of it. ...

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pp. 40-47

For a day, I enjoyed myself. After my release from jail, I made plodding visits to the several negligible sights that made for the tourist’s agenda in Momo-Jima. In one afternoon, I visited an ancient fish processing plant (still capable of churning out two tons of fish emulsion per day even though it was built in 1923); ...

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pp. 48-53

“We don’t have a history of independent elections, you know,” Trevor said ruefully. We were back in the house now, sitting inside the dark and stuffy strategy room where all three televisions played silently and Mr. Cecilia was trying unsuccessfully to open a safe containing the campaign funds. ...

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pp. 54-59

At the hotel, I bade Wilkie good–bye and said I would phone for him later. I then shuffled up to my room where I dismissed my reporter’s instinct to immediately reread and augment my notes and instead fetched the island’s White Pages. Inside the thin book, I hunted down the home address and phone number of Stanley MacGower ...

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pp. 60-70

Walking cheerlessly up the cracked concrete path to Stanley’s house, I stopped to examine the blocked Oldsmobile. Despite the fitful tropical weather, the old car was in good shape and seemed to have been consistently cared for. The paint was of a good brownish ebony, the off-white interior was whole and unblemished, ...

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pp. 71-74

Later in recalling my first meeting with Stanley, it surprised me that I didn’t stop then to fully consider all the implications of he and Trevor being brothers (especially since I’d been with the other only hours earlier), and that in the end, they were likely to possess more, and more complicated, inward similarities than outward differences. ...

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pp. 75-83

When I called Trevor to apprise him of my meeting with Stanley (for in returning home with Wilkie I felt duty-bound to at least mention that I’d met his brother), he was pleased. ...

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pp. 84-89

I wrestled all night with bad dreams. In one of them, there were far-off ringing telephones that I could not get to despite my bursting into room after empty room. In another, the image of a hideous and trussed up clown hovered and flew above me (he, too, was trying to communicate something). ...

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pp. 90-95

Wilkie trailed me out of the house and again opened the Renault’s back door for me, unaware it was the last time he would have to see to my well-being. This was his final day, too, I thought, though in keeping with the caste of political campaigns, he likely would find out later. ...

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pp. 96-99

For several years I have carried around a peculiar idea of happiness (peculiar in that no one I know shares it, and that when I mention my beliefs I’m usually characterized as an unhelpful depressive . . . which I’m not). At first, I assumed my ideas derived from my brief but difficult experience in marriage, ...

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pp. 100-108

Stanley’s blather concerning his brother’s psychology sounded plausible in his personally ransacked office—delivered as it was with fraternal conviction—but when I emerged in the outside world I realized that none of it would help me in persuading Trevor to alter his course. ...

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pp. 109-116

I returned to my hotel room early that evening. After leaving Trevor’s, I rode around the island in search of relief, looking for a place that would match the bucolic, windswept scene that I had imagined back home in my city apartment. But after nearly two hours toiling along one-lane roads that kept a long distance from any coastal stretches, ...

Part Two

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pp. 117-118

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pp. 119-126

A week went by. I was now working hard and anticipating the onset of imminent exhaustion. Nightly, I returned to my hotel around one or two a.m., winded after a hard day of intricate scheming and public orchestrations but oddly, also brimming and rampant with ideas for the next. ...

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pp. 127-132

My meetings with Trevor, on the other hand, were not so rewarding. Having seen a greater reaction to his new public identity, he soon became convinced of his own politic value and thus wished to engage me more and more in weighty analyses of matters that were utterly foreign to him: international monetary relief, ethnic terrorism, ...

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pp. 133-136

“People really only want something when you try to take that something away.” This was a saying my bookish and otherwise preoccupied father used to utter when I was small, repeating it whenever I misbehaved and he’d threatened to remove a favorite toy or other plaything. ...

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pp. 137-139

We now sat in the place where we had conducted our first meeting, the narrow shaded porch at the edge of Trevor’s backyard. Though he had protested this spot, for psychology’s sake I wanted to stay out of the dimly lighted strategy room. Here I felt the open space of the outdoors might reinforce the theme of opportunism I was about to introduce. ...

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pp. 140-143

Rector Froines naturally was pleased when I called to say that Trevor would be resigning. His leaving the race would silence for good all discussion of the mining possibilities on Momo-Jima and now the matter would forever go unmentioned. In response, an hour later, two large baskets of speckled, ...

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pp. 144-148

A half hour later, Sono drove up in a gleaming brown Oldsmobile, roaring and gunning through the humid night air. It was the old car I’d seen on the lawn of Stanley’s house, still without license plates but now fixed up to drive and pulsing along with a loud, bottom-heavy shudder. ...

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pp. 149-157

Much later, while recalling the passage of the next few days, I found that I remembered everything about them in exacting detail. This was greatly unlike me and it presented a problem that I’d never before encountered—that of trying to analyze events without knowing their individual impact upon me. ...

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pp. 158-170

I began the next day a few hours later in the aseptic setting of an old-fashioned television studio where I was being interviewed. Like the US, Momo-Jima had been beset by a proliferation of morning question-and-chat shows (three apiece on each of its three channels) and I was scheduled to be on two of them today. ...

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pp. 171-174

In its smells and crumbly institutional facade, the jail was exactly as how I remembered it. Only the people attending it had changed. Now there were officers I did not recognize, as well as a new civilian volunteer, a comely looking young woman whose oversized badge simply read “ERICA.” ...

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pp. 175-177

Much, much later—well into the small hours of the next day—I found myself stumbling around the dark back garden of Trevor’s house with mud on my shoes and a tall sweet drink in my hand. Inside there was still much celebrating (it began at sundown and reached a crescendo when Trevor was released from jail shortly after), ...

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pp. 178-180

For a few days, I turned Trevor’s statement over in my mind, trying to see a way into it. It didn’t seem to explain him in any way I had come to know, nor could I trace it to the evolution of anything that had been gestating inside of him. His was not normally an inward personality and if he had been working ...

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About the Author

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Scott Shibuya Brown is a former staff correspondent for Time Magazine and a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches at California State University, Northridge, and plays in the punk band Finland Station.

E-ISBN-13: 9781597091930
E-ISBN-10: 1597091936
Print-ISBN-13: 9781597094245
Print-ISBN-10: 1597094242

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: First

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Journalists -- Fiction.
  • Asian Americans -- Fiction.
  • South Pacific Ocean -- Fiction.
  • Oceania -- Fiction.
  • Humorous fiction. -- gsafd.
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