Matt Forney
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Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: Of Exile and Excess in Japan by Stefhen F.D. Bryan

black-passenger-yellow-cabsNOTE: This review was originally published at In Mala Fide on April 21, 2012.

Black Passenger Yellow Cabs is one of those books where a low price point enables me to look past its numerous flaws. And believe you me, this is an incredibly flawed book. But it only cost me $2.99 (the lowest price you can charge for a Kindle book and still make any money), so these flaws aren’t as huge a deal as they would normally be.

Black Passenger is a reasonably unique book: half tell-all memoir, half sociological study. It chronicles author Stefhen Bryan’s adventures teaching English in Japan, banging a slew of girls along the way, to the point where he gets sick of it and finally gets married. Interspersed between his tales of hedonism, he delves into his abusive childhood growing up in Jamaica, his self-destructive and suicidal behavior in his adopted homeland of America, and his extensive research into the pathologies of Japanese society:

Which begs the question, why do the Japanese work themselves to the grave, or more accurately, to the crematorium? The answer lies in their socialization. Whereas organisms, especially humans and especially Western humans seek to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, the Japanese from thousands of years of programming seek to do the opposite, cultural tendencies on which businesses and political leaders capitalize.

Bryan amusingly compares Japan to the Jackson family, its leaders a bunch of slave-driving nuts who were determined to make Japan into a first-world country no matter the cost. This aggressive Westernization meshed with Japan’s preexisting infantilized culture to create a shocking number of social problems, from mother-son incest to parricide to abnormally high rates of autism and Asperger’s (salarymen openly picking their noses and eating their snot is apparently a common sight on the subway). If you know any nerdy anime freaks or other Asian supremacists, this book would go a long way towards defusing their delusions about their beloved model minorities.

But I haven’t even gotten to the most bizarre problem Japan suffers from: the men there simply aren’t interested in sex. We all know about herbivore men and how the land of the rising sun leads the world in sexless marriages, but that’s not the worst of it. Many Japanese husbands are so uninterested in fucking their wives that they basically outsource the job to foreign men, which Bryan was all too eager to take advantage of:

Returning to her multi-car warehouse, we continued our consumption of each other’s lips, when the shutter descended far enough so our actions could not be recognized. Mouth still locked, we hurriedly unbuckled each other’s jeans, like teenagers trying to get busy before being caught. Her jeans appeared to have been welded, form-fitted onto her curvy athletic body and after much effort I pried them and her panties from her and began curling her, 52 kilograms and 158 centimeters, onto my north pointing member. It had been five years for her, so my invasion was the source of great pain.

“I have to cook my husband’s dinner,” she said, as I curled her up and down.  “Already we’ve been gone too long.  Let’s meet next weekend again and go to a hotel.”

Reading Black Passenger went a long way towards making me understand why East Asia is a sexual paradise for white men: Japanese guys are the biggest pussies on the planet. They’d rather work themselves to death (literally, as karoshi, death from overwork, is an epidemic in Japan) then get laid. How can you blame their women for running into the arms of foreign devils? At least foreign guys want to have sex.

Bryan also lays into the numerous problems Japanese girls have: poor dental hygiene, shyness, and an odd unwillingness to use birth control. That last one isn’t as big a deal as you might think, though, as Japanese women have absolutely no reservations about getting those unwanted little shits sucked out at the nearby clinic; Bryan goes through over a dozen abortions during his time there:

Abortion in Japan is an industry, which like all industries here is run by men. According to the Health Labor and Welfare Ministry 289,127 abortions were performed in 2005, the lowest since compiling data began in 1955. This number represents a first for pregnancy terminations to fall bellow the 300,000 mark since 1955. However, experts agree that the actual number may even be three times that amount, given structural incentives for doctors to under-report. Abortion and contraceptives are not covered by insurance, hence doctors are at liberty to set the price. As most – including three for which I paid – are paid for in cash, doctors are able to manipulate the numbers in order to dodge taxes and what’s more, the penalty for total under-reporting is less than the cost of one abortion. Since my arrival here in 2001, there have been at least two reports of authorities finding illegally and improperly discarded fetuses in dumpsters near abortions clinics.

Bryan’s descriptions of his sexual conquests are interesting enough but fall short of leaving an impact. While his ability to come up with metaphors for his penis is legendary (“SCUD” and “hardened negritude” among them), his diction is too wordy and intellectual. This tone works for the sociological portions of the book, but it falls flat during the memoir parts. An honest, introspective work like this needs to pull the reader in and rub his face in the depravity of it all, but I always felt disconnected from the action.

That’s just one problem with Black Passenger. The other two major problems with the book, that would cripple it if it weren’t so cheap, are its length and poor editing. This book drags on twice as long as it needs to, as Bryan’s sexual encounters become increasingly repetitive and dull, and the narrative slowly grinds to a halt instead of coming to a proper conclusion. I suppose you could make an argument that the monotony of the second half drives home Bryan’s increasing weariness of Japanese women, but it was a struggle to get all the way to the end.

And the editing… my God is it terrible. I was shocked to see an editor listed on Black Passenger’s Amazon page, because everything about the book screams “first draft.” Comma splices, run-on sentences, typos and more dot the pages like zits on a weeaboo’s face. Not only that, the Kindle formatting is screwed up, with paragraphs spaced unevenly and a few lacking indents.

Finally, Bryan’s feminist beliefs get annoying after a while. Roosh already brought this up in his review, but Bryan’s kvetching about the Japanese patriarchy is on shaky factual ground and could have come out of a Feministe or Jezebel screed.

Still, the ludicrously low price point makes these flaws less of an issue. Even with its slipshod editing, Black Passenger Yellow Cabs is an intriguing little adventure. If you want to learn more about Japan or if you just want to read another book about sleazy sexcapades, this is worth a look.

Click here to buy Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: Of Exile and Excess in Japan.

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