Week 5 Response

This week I chose to respond to a piece of creative nonfiction called “The American House” by Bram Takefma, which is published in the current issue of Baltimore Review (http://baltimorereview.org/index.php/winter_2012/contributor/bram-takefman). The story is about a Japanese man named Ichiro Oku who loves all things American. After a business trip to the U.S. Mr. Oku decided that he wanted to build a house like the ones found in America. He carefully presents the idea to his wife who eventually agrees to live in an American style home. However, Mr. Oku gets more than he bargained for because his wife and his home life changes drastically due to the new house. One way we see the change is through family meals. In the beginning, Mrs. Oku is thrilled to have her husband whimsically decide to come home and have dinner with her on a weeknight when he normally goes out with coworkers. Near the end, on the other hand, Mr. Oku compares having a meal at home with his wife to having dinner at an exclusive restaurant in that you have to make a reservation well in advance. I think it is sad how something I wouldn’t really think twice about leads to this man choosing his drinking buddies over being at home with his wife. It is interesting to think about the bigger picture this story touches upon. In my mind the bigger picture is that the American way of life doesn’t necessarily work for everyone everywhere. I personally can’t imagine living in any other kind of home, and when I was studying French I remember class discussions on hotels and their amenities and thinking how strange it was for air conditioning to be in only a select few hotels. Getting back to the story, I don’t feel that Mr. Oku totally deserves what happens to him because as far as I can tell he means well. One might accuse him of being greedy I guess, but he seems to genuinely enjoy American architecture. I just hope that the novelty of his American style home wore off fairly quickly so that Mr. and Mrs. Oku could go back to pleasant dinners together whenever they felt like it.

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