To Tokyo and Beyond: an Author’s Journey
Our speaker for May, Tim Anderson, is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. Tim grew up in North Raleigh and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published six books in total, but he’ll be speaking primarily about two of these: Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries and Sweet Tooth: A Memoir. His presentation will open with an overview of his publishing career, covering many of the twists, turns, and facepalm moments he’s endured so far.
Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries is a collection of stories he wrote about his life in Tokyo after spontaneously leaving a series of dead-end jobs and moving there to teach English for two years—without knowing any Japanese. After he self-published this book in 2010, it was picked up by Amazon Publishing and reissued in 2011. Tim then moved on to writing Sweet Tooth: A Memoir, which was published by Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing imprint last year. (Bad blood between Amazon and independent booksellers is the reason you might have trouble finding these books in bookstores locally, though you can very easily find them online.) Tim will read a little from both books.
Publishers Weekly called Tune in Tokyo “laugh-out-loud funny” and Shelf Awareness said that it’s “so much fun.” Its sixteen hilarious stories chronicle his progress as an outsider immersed in and stumbling through a steep learning curve as he navigates a new job, crazy surroundings, and extremely dicey communications with the locals. ”Engaging,” “rollicking,” and “colorful” are words used to describe it by readers, and it would be perfect for someone who’s thinking of going to visit or live there (especially to teach English), or anyone who loves a good fish-out-of-water narrative.
Sweet Tooth: A Memoir is not your everyday tale about coming to terms with being gay in North Carolina in the eighties. Tim’s frantically bourgeoning sexual awareness was complicated by the contemporaneous onset of type-1 diabetes at the age of 15. The ongoing impact of this disease on his life underlines the fact that sexuality is not the only critical factor in a young gay person’s life. Sweet Tooth interweaves stories about coming of age and coming out, using humor and post-punk/new wave music references to portray Tim’s reluctant struggle to try to take control of his disease while also keeping his frenzied, hormonal gay panic at bay.
The 2015 North Carolina Literary Review describes Sweet Tooth as full of “wry detachment, candid self-assessment, and prolific sarcasm that often leads to laugh-out-loud moments.” It goes on to say that the book is “a smart, open-eyed meditation on disease, sexuality, religion, and community that never loses sight of its comic ends” and is “a winning memoir that breaks new ground for the coming out narrative.” And in January, the American Library Association named Sweet Tooth a Rainbow List Top Ten Title. (Also, check out Phoebe Judge’s conversation with Tim on WUNC’s The State of Things, titled “Life after Hormones and Blood Sugar Go Berserk.”)
Both books have been compared to the work of another Raleigh native, David Sedaris.
Tim has been “a waiter, a data entry clerk, a photocopier repairman, a freelance writer, a middle school teacher, an editor of encyclopedias, and a depressed employee of the state of North Carolina.” Among his goals in life are one day to be “a spokesman for Speedos and/or Nutella.” His blog declares that he is an “author and future underwear model in space,” though we have been unable to confirm the latter. As T. Neill Anderson, he has also published four young adult historical novels. But, as he observes on his website, he has nothing on his older brother, “who can play his teeth like a xylophone with his thumb.”