Sunday, March 4, 2012
"Skivvy Girl: The Love of a Post WWII Japanese Pleasure Girl" by Earnest Mercer
This novel tells with seamless authenticity and brutal realism the life of Japan's young post war prostitutes, known as "skivvy girls" in military parlance, and is depicted by the composite protagonist, Matsuyama Yoshiko. Her story begins in a tiny farming community in 1945, when as a seventeen-year-old girl she is stunned by the harsh reality that the death of her father on Iwo Jima has left her and her mother destitute and on the verge of starvation. Yoshiko, a sexually inexperienced virgin, turns to prostitution in the iniquitous naval port city of Yokosuka for survival. She arrives penniless, alone, and with no concept of the callous world of prostitution in which she is about to enter. Taken in by a skivvy house madam, she endures exhaustive training on how to accommodate her clients. When she completes training, she takes her place among the other skivvy house girls. From the
beginning, she suffers brutal treatment from pitiless, often drunken, seamen hungering for sex after long periods at sea. After enduring the demanding life of a prostitute for several months, she is visited by a shy young American sailor who treats her with kindness and respect. They form a bond that eventually morphs into love. Yoshiko leaves the skivvy house to live with her American lover. Together they endure language differences, cultural challenges, and the harshness of the post-war environment, but find solace in their affection for one another. But what does fate hold for these star-crossed lovers?
Labels: Historical fiction