Miura Shion is the original author of Fune wo Amu (2011) otherwise also known as The Great Passage. The anime adaptation started airing from October 16 on Fuji Television’s noitaminA block. The interview consists of eleven parts; this is the seventh part on Miura’s reading habits during her middle school days. Please go to part one “Encountering a Dictionary” to read the interview from the beginning.
More Reading Than Writing – Middle School Days
I made use of the school library with all my might, dropped by at the bookstore after school each time, and I wouldn’t return home unless I roamed there for hours; that’s how my life looked like.
It might be a rude question to someone who became a professional writer, but did you like writing?
I hated it. I didn’t know if what I wrote was any good. Such as book reports.
So that means even if you have the ability to write.
Well, I wonder. I didn’t want to write very much, and the things I should write didn’t come to my mind.
Is it because it was a topic that was assigned to you? You wrote a lot of things on your own, including the hard-boiled genre.
That was only because I was deeply moved by “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” which I read at that time. I didn’t write anymore than that.
You read an incredible amount of books, huh. It wasn’t homework where you had to write down your own thoughts, but it wasn’t something you wrote because you wanted to write yourself either?
It wasn’t that either. If I read, I was reading. I didn’t add notes to what I read, so I would go on to forget it. Therefore I probably didn’t remember about the textbook either. By the way, I don’t have the habit of continuing a sort of diary either. I’d buy a diary, and think “let’s give it a try”, but I only lasted one day.
Among the people who study the profession called novelist or writer, there are many people who say they love writing compositions since they were small…
They exist, huh. I wasn’t able to do that at all. I had no idea how to write a good book report. To begin with, even if I was told to write down my impressions after reading a book, it was very difficult to put something like that into words immediately. There are plenty of people who publicly make their thoughts about the books they’ve read to the available to the whole world. That’s truly mysterious, I think it’s incredible that they can often write it immediately. I dreaded book reports and other essays. I had no idea what to write. Other than that, I enjoyed reading textbooks and books more.
When you were in middle school, you often went to the bookstore with some pocket money.
Yes. But I only bought manga (lol).
But manga are also books according to the wise sayings of Kure Tomofusa-san[ref]Kure Tomofusa is a professor at Kyoto University.[/ref].
That’s right, that’s right! Ever since I was a child, I would be reading manga, but they also say that you will be able to memorize kanji naturally by reading manga. I borrowed and read books from the school library. In middle school I liked authors such as Maruyama Kenji, Sakaguchi Ango and Hisao Juuran. The school library was very complete. So I also read their complete works.
Libraries and bookshops were special places of interest to the middle schooler Miura Shion, right?
That’s right. I made use of the school library with all my might, dropped by at the bookstore after school each time, and I wouldn’t return home unless I roamed there for hours; that’s how my life looked like.
If you put it like that, it seems like a type of addiction…
It was totally an addiction. I couldn’t quit. That’s how much I liked reading books. Rather than writing, I liked reading better.
What kind of works seem good to put into a textbook?
I’d like it to contain the writings of great writers who belong to the domain of very major, literary masters. But if it’s turned into a paperback book it will be too minor. It would also be good if it has difficult, foreign short stories. For example, I think it would feel incredibly interesting if middle schoolers could read short stories written by Italians or South American literature. Of course, science fiction would be good too. I thought it would be interesting to even read a work by Hoshi Shinichi-san[ref]Hoshi Shinichi (1926 – 1997) was a Japanese novelist and science fiction writer, known for his “short-short” science fiction stories of which he wrote over 1000.[/ref].
And then I started reading other works one by one. I wonder if Tsutsui Yasutaka-san[ref]Tsutsui Yasutaka is a Japanese novelist, science fiction author, and actor. He is the author of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which was adapted and reinterpreted many times, including an animated movie by Shinkai Makoto.[/ref] was also among those. I think it’s good if it had works which reflect the current literature, such as the latest super-contemporary science-fiction short. That kind of cutting edge stuff. I feel it’s very important to be aware of what the writer who lives in real-time has written to the world.
A textbook will approach a little nearer to the literary masters, right? A textbook might be that kind of book, but wouldn’t it be okay if both sides are there? When there is an experimental work of which the value has yet to be determined, a middle schooler will surely think that “this story might be interesting”. It’s fine even if we can take excerpts from long works, but if it’s too hard it’s better to select a short story. But I’d still like to read entire works. And then, I absolutely want to place the portrait photo of the author. Everyone should scribble on it even now (laughs).