The original Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon was the quirky, confessional, list-ridden bed-book of a lady-in-waiting at the Japanese court in the tenth century, still fascinating and in print eleven centuries later.
In Pearls in Vinegar, popular Toronto Globe and Mail columnist Heather Mallick contemporizes many of the qualities of Sei Shonagon's book with her own peculiar, insightful, and witty commentary on one hundred and sixty diverse subjects, including Things That Make You Appreciate Men, Poetic Subjects, Hateful Things, Adorable Things, Things That Fall from the Sky, Different Ways of Speaking, and Lacrimae Rerum. Built on one woman's observations, it's an itemized collection of essays, short lists, long lists, comforts, toxicities, things you should be ashamed to laugh at but do anyway, and many small privacies that illuminate a new corner of the world.
Confessional without self-glorification or self-abnegation, funny and affecting, and, above all, honest, Pearls in Vinegar is a bracing antidote to all that is bland, dull, and homogenous. Read it and laugh.
Heather Mallick's smart, witty, acerbic take on an ancient literary form, the Japanese pillow book.