Cut­ting Back: My Ap­pren­tice­ship in the Gar­dens of Ky­oto

Les­lie Buck

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction -

Tim­ber Press Hard­cover $24.95 (280pp) 978-1-60469-793-3

Buck’s mem­oir fea­tures a po­etry of ex­pres­sion tem­pered by the keen eye of a gar­dener.

When Les­lie Buck turned thirty-five, she ig­nored so­ci­ety’s pres­sures to start fo­cus­ing on mar­riage, chil­dren, home own­er­ship, and re­tire­ment ac­counts, and in­stead fol­lowed a cu­ri­ous urge to be­come an ap­pren­tice at Ue­toh Zoen, one of Ja­pan’s most revered land­scap­ing com­pa­nies. Buck’s mem­oir of this so­journ, Cut­ting Back, is told with beau­ti­ful, care­fully crafted lan­guage and a per­cep­tively can­did voice.

Though Buck was al­ready a suc­cess­ful gar­den designer in Cal­i­for­nia, she will­ingly took the huge step back­ward into ap­pren­tice­ship while up­root­ing her­self and moving half­way across the world. De­spite her affin­ity for Ja­pan, she still strug­gled with lan­guage bar­ri­ers and the unique com­plex­i­ties of both Ja­panese cul­ture and hor­ti­cul­ture. Be­yond that, her co­work­ers at the Ky­oto land­scap­ing com­pany were all male—and gen­er­ally per­plexed by the Amer­i­can woman who had joined their crew.

While Cut­ting Back ex­cels on many lev­els, the book’s core is its in­tu­itive ap­pre­ci­a­tion for na­ture. Trees, gar­dens, flow­ers, koi, birds, and down­pours of rain are won­der­fully de­scribed, with a po­etry of ex­pres­sion tem­pered by the keen eye of a gar­dener. Buck is earnest, hard-work­ing, and ap­peal­ingly truth­ful; she strives to learn from and keep up with her of­ten im­pas­sive male col­leagues, though she is fre­quently over­whelmed by ex­haus­tion, the el­e­ments, or her own emo­tions. She al­ways per­sists.

Cut­ting Back is in keep­ing with its Ja­panese set­ting, re­flect­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of sub­tle beauty, small ges­tures, and a re­spect for tra­di­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.