â€śI was twenty-three and I had set off for Asia to become a writer, intrigued by lurid tales of booms, busts, drugs, sex, violence, magic. There was a wicked sorcery in Asia, in the economic profligacy of the early nineties, in the way financiers and businessmen took a rapidly wiring and developing continent and looted billions, like a titanic parlor trick converting all that wealth into abandoned office complexes and half-completed shopping malls. . . . I wanted it allâ€”the money, the sex, the drugs. And to this day I believe that if I am honest with myself, despite all I have learned the hard way over the past decade, I would still want it all again, the fucking and the getting loaded and the scheming to get enough money to pay for that life.â€ťIn the late 1980s, not long out of college, Karl Taro Greenfeld found himself stranded in New York, a failed writer before his career had even begun. His Jewish-American father angrily cut off support; his Japanese mother suggested he go to Japan to teach English. He did, accepting a job with no more promise than heâ€™d had before. But he stayed in Asia for the next several years, working his way through a series of journalistic posts, watching a culture erupt before his eyes and facing his own demons. Through a series of vividly imagistic stories that range from the rigidly journalistic to the deeply intimate, Standard Deviations recounts Greenfeldâ€™s experiencesâ€”both professional and personalâ€”during Asiaâ€™s wild ride at the end of the twentieth century. Whether drinking Japanese cough syrup to get high with other Western expatriates, visiting a free-sex ashram in Bombay, or watching a former high school pal self-destruct as an equity analyst in Jakarta, Greenfeld evokes the spirit of a continent in flux at an explosive â€śbubbleâ€ť economyâ€™s endâ€”and a man confronting his own identity and aspirations.Raunchy, insightful, eloquent and moving, Standard Deviations is an uncompromising work of cultural observation and self-exploration.
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