I’ve embarked on a reading frenzy these days (won’t last much longer, but it’s fun)!
Michele E. Northwood’s Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea has received great reviews—for obvious reasons. It’s a fascinating real-life tale. Usually, I find autobiographical accounts rather flat and dry, but Michele’s flows smoothly, like a gently rippling late-spring stream. It’s entertaining, engaging, a can’t-put-down read.
Here’s a bit from the Amazon blurb:
Set in 1989, a year after the Olympic Games in South Korea, this is the true story of Michele, a young dancer, whose naïve dream of working in the Far East quickly turns into a nightmare. She finds herself in a host of situations for which she is ill-equipped. Dancing her way across Korea with Louise and Sharon, she is—among other things—propositioned by the Mafia, turned away by the British Embassy, caught in a student riot, and taken to Korean brothels. Both shocking and humorous, this Double Award Winning Memoir takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as you follow the life of a timid young girl caught in a male-orientated world of alcohol, sex and seedy nightclubs.
If that doesn’t pull you right in to Michele’s well chronicled story, nothing will. This last paragraph of the first chapter makes for foreshadowing . . . as, indeed, fate does take its course.
This struck me as a bit odd and rather deceptive, but I did not voice my opinion. The deed was done. I had signed the paperwork, so all I could do was let fate take its course.
From the get-go, you’re compelled to accompany the threesome on their crazy journey.
I equated our situation to how animals must feel when loaded into a cattle truck heading for slaughter. I could not help but feel as though we were heading for the same fate – comparatively speaking. What did destiny have in store for us now?
Our author has a disarming narrative manner; description, characters, and dialogue are convincingly presented. It’s easy to visualize the various venues (like dim or dirty bars with daft or dangerous customers), appreciate the fluctuating feelings as Michele and her colleagues interact with sordid sorts, and hear the emotions as they discuss dilemmas and incidents.
As the dancing trio travel around the country, they deal with dubious agents and managers, meet some pervy people, and encounter lascivious males. Work is often an “audition” and money is tight (if at all). Food is sometimes scarce and hotel rooms are rat- and insect-infested. You know things will go from bad to worse before they get better—and there are moments where you wonder if they truly will improve—but you hang in, needing to learn what transpires.
Funny moments intersperse the drama; Michele, Sharon, and Louise share humorous moments and situations just as they share grim ones. It takes strength—perseverance and persistence—to contend with what they did. Hats off to them!
The editor in me usually deducts a half point or so when there are typos or the like; but in this case, I so enjoyed Fishnets, I have to give it a 5 out of 5.
Please check out Michele at: