Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner


May 11th, 2012 · 2 Comments

I’ve been breaking out all my old kiddie books to read to Microkhan Jr., an experience that has taught me a lot about the formative images that shaped my worldview—sometimes to horrifying effect. One that jumped out at me the other day was from Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy World. It purports to depict the demoralizing life of a Tokyo commuter, complete with those infamous subway pushers who cram salarymen onto the rush-hour trains. The Scarry drawing uses pigs instead of people, which makes for a disconcerting finished product—almost as if the passengers are being hauled to the slaughterhouse rather than office buildings.

As a result of that supposedly whimsical image, I developed a longstanding fascination with the travails (both real and imagined) of Japanese mass-transit users. Apparently I’m not the only one.


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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Setec Astrology

    My mother is very upset that Busy, Busy World is no longer generally available in print–though she still has our old copy. Apparently there are political correctness issues (which I can understand and lament at the same time).

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Setec Astrology: Busy, Busy World is definitely (how can I put this delicately?) a product of its time. Scarry’s take on the non-Western world is pretty much what you’d expect of a dude who did his writing at a ski chalet in Gstaad.

    I’ve been finding that a lot of my childhood books seems pretty archaic these days. Don’t get me started on The Story About Ping.