But what time—the time of planes and stalled trains still—of in transit—
Tokyo and Kamakura, Japan, 2013
The Tokyo of my novel TOKYO is not Tokyo, of course. But I wanted my imagined place to be haunted by the other one, the cosmopolitan capitol of what we call Japan, lived and imagined by its inhabitants and its visitors. I spent a month there, wandering Tsukiji, the Tokyo Central Wholesale Market, and the Outer Market that surrounds it, late at night, trying to lose myself for awhile, day and night, in the streets and underground, to get disoriented, to see and hear through the membrane of the alien—or as that membrane.
Texas and New Mexico, 2017
Research for my next book—an essay considering my family's relationship to Mexico—took me to several archives and landscapes in west Texas and southern New Mexico, where my grandmother wandered for a time with her children and father, and where my father was born. My route began in El Paso, in Segundo Barrio, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, its southern edge maybe a hundred yards from the river that is a border. My grandmother lived and worked there for a few years in the late 1920s, moving away for one winter, when my father was born somewhere in the vicinity of Alpine, in the Davis Mountains. She may also have spent some time among the Mexican families that had been settled along the north bank of the Rio Grande for generations, in what is now Big Bend National Park.