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Book review: 'Big in Japan' tells tale of Texan becoming a sumo wrestler

By Mike Whitmer

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 5:30 p.m. MDT

"BIG IN JAPAN," by Jennifer Griffith, Jolly Fish Press, $16.99, 320 pages (f)

Buck Cooper is a big, blonde, lumbering mountain of a Texas man who can’t keep his shirt tucked into his pants. The company he works for, Eaglestone Pharmaceuticals, seems to appreciate his abilities as a statistician, but no one else notices how much he wants to fit in and be liked.

In her new book, “Big In Japan,” Jennifer Griffith follows the adventures of Buck Cooper as he tries to find love, success and a little recognition. It’s not that Buck is a bad guy, but his 400-pound, 26-year-old body with unruly hair doesn’t encourage much respect from friends, enemies or family members.

When Buck’s father and mother decide to take an emergency trip to Japan, he feels the need to go along to protect them. This trip will make or break the business venture his father has been pursuing for several years and with everything on the line, Buck is determined to help all he can.

Through a series of accidental events, Buck becomes a national celebrity and is thrust into the world of Japanese sumo wrestling, the Japanese national sport. Starting as a rookie, the massive Cooper learns the good and bad of being a "rikishi" or Sumo while also finding that love can come to a blonde Texan in Japan.

in "Big In Japan," Griffith weaves a delightfully entertaining tale of change, bravery and true love in the life of a lonely young man trying to overcome an austere and challenging environment.

Drawing on experiences she had while on an 18-month stay in Japan during her college years, as her bio relates, Griffith shares insights into the lives and trials of Japanese visitors and citizens. Readers will be engaged as they follow the tragedies and triumphs of an endearingly kind and honest young man in the "Land of the Rising Sun."

“Big In Japan” has some moments of brutality (fighting and abuse to adult Sumos) and one or two instances of alcoholic drinking. Even with these cautions, this story would be appropriate for youth and young adults under direction from their parents.

If you go ...

What: Jennifer Griffith book signings

When: Friday, Nov. 2, 6 p.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, Layton Market Center, 1780 N. Woodland Park Drive, Layton

Web: barnesandnoble.com

Also ...

When: Saturday, Nov. 3, 7-8 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Mike Whitmer lives in West Valley City and has suddenly become interested in Sumo wrestling. His email is grundelwalken@gmail.com or he blogs at mtwhitmer.blogspot.com.

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