Hey friends! Today is my stop on the blog tour for Shikoku by David Tepfer, and I am bringing you a guest post. Enjoy!
Shikoku by David Tepfer
Published by: Clink Street Publishing
Release date: 26/01/2021
Where to find: Goodreads | Amazon
Summary: …an island in Japan, where bicycles, food and love mix for high adventure.
A retired professor-poet and a young doctor-jazz singer cycle Shikoku in the Seto Inland Sea. Their wanderings unite them emotionally and physically, and help them to overcome past tragedies and to discover new lives in themselves and each other. They are aided by bicycles, cherry blossoms, wild coastlines, hot spring bathing and Japanese cuisine. They discuss love, life, art and religion. The usual conflict between good and evil is subdued, and while the love story is the motive force, it is not the only intrigue. Shikoku is a “novelogue,” not only because their adventures take place through cycling, but also because the characters undertake a voyage to a better life.
Five things I loved about the island of Shikoku in quotes from the novel, Shikoku.
Sakura in Matsuyama
“It was Sunday, and Dogo Park was filled with cherry trees in glorious, explosive climax. Tablecloths were spread under the sakura blossoms, and the park was covered with people having their hanami picnic, with food either brought with them or bought from stands lining the paths. Clouds of smoke rose from charcoal braziers, and beer and sake flowed. Many men and women were in kimonos. There was singing and laughter and invitations to share food and drink. They ate squid, octopus, fish and sweets. It was a perfect day.”
“They got up before dawn and walked to the beach with a bicycle light. They sat on a rock, feeling the first hint of colorless mist surround them. The light quickly took form and color. The sky went from black to gray, to gray-blue and to a clear bluish hue, but it was still the embryo of a day. The gold was slow to come. It propagated first on the sand, invaded the surf foam and finally climbed the rocks along the shore and caught the trees. Real light sent shooting rays into the air above the sea, streaks through the distant haze, and the low clouds picked up the theme and restated it in pink that quickly turned vermillion. Finally, the first hint of a red disc peeked above the horizon, and a new day was born.”
“The air is cozy warm, but with prickly cool places. The stream sounds are distant. The mountain changes with cloud shadows passing fast. Cloud caresses. They have been asleep. She rises and puts on her yukata, hesitates, then lets it drop to the floor and returns to him. The air has cooled. A patch of fog blows up the valley, across the mountain, engulfing wild cherry trees. They rise together and make their way to the terrace bath, together, and settle into the hot water, together. They watch the weather changing, the passing of low clouds and the coming of rain. A gentle tsunami of fog sweeps along the steep sides of the Iya valley, clinging to the ridges and filling the low places, leaving patches of mottled light in its wake. They soak, caress and dry each other the way a mother dries her baby — fondly, lovingly. They dress in their yukatas for breakfast.”
“Of the many climbs, the most thrilling was route 44, taken on a whim after staying in the Iya Onsen. We wanted to head north to the birthplace of Kōbō Daishi, who brought Esoteric Buddhism to Japan from China 1300 years ago. Route 44 looked like the direct way. We started climbing after a copious soba noodle lunch, and we finished in the Yoshino Valley as night fell — two passes and countless switchbacks later.”
“The garden was built by successive lords over 100 years, starting in the early seventeenth century. Mount Shiun served as a backdrop, providing a natural reference for the landscape art. They began their stroll along well-swept paths, finding their way to a hill with views over Hoko Lake, with islands — all planted in elegantly trimmed and trained pine trees. Across the pond was a vermillion Japanese arched bridge, and several traditional buildings nested in the landscape. They crossed arched bridges in natural wood, and used stepping-stones to cross the stream flowing through clumps of irises into the lake from Fukiage Spring, providing clear water throughout the garden. A canopy of freshly minted, yellow-green maple leaves descended over the dark water.
They came to the teahouse from the side away from the lake, facing another pond. Inside, they were served matcha tea and sweets, kneeling on the tatami mats. They stayed for a long while, soaking up the visual thrill of the lake, with its perfect islands and bridges and the many-colored foliages as a backdrop.”
David Tepfer is a resident of Paris, France. He grew up in Eugene, Oregon, USA. He is a retired biologist. His professional CV (attached) includes 56 primary research articles (published in peer-reviewed, international journals), 32 review articles (published in scientific journals, symposia volumes and professional books) and five biotechnology patents. His scientific papers have been cited over 6,000 times.
David Tepfer is currently a concert promoter, including instrumental chamber music, vocal recitals, tango music, contemporary dance and jazz. He is a live event and outdoor videographer and photographer (YouTube channel: 683,000 views)..
He is a cook, gastronome and outdoor adventurer (cycling, skiing, mountain climbing, free diving and kayaking. He invented the sport of cross-country and downhill roller skiing, appearing on the “The Tonight Show” in the USA and on “Sur la Scelette” with Philippe Bouvard in France.
His son, Dan Tepfer, is a world-recognized pianist.