Diaries: The Ultimate Source of Truth

The diary genre of writing is highlighted in Ozeki’s piece My Year of Meats.  In the story, Jane, Akiko, and Suzie are intertwined with different backgrounds, all representing the beneficiaries of Shonagon’s diary genre.

When Suzie Flowers is introduced, her somewhat perfect exterior that is displayed on television is ultimately brought back to Earth with her humanly imperfections. As Ozeki introduces Suzie Flowers in her own section, the audience realizes that such perfections that were displayed on television turn out to be not so true at all. Suzie turns out to be overwhelmed with stress toward how to display her life on television. Ozeki shows Suzie’s uncomfortably with her life’s appearance when she feels ashamed of her mother’s quilt. “Suzie was so ashamed of it that after the coordinator left that day she went right out to Wal-Mart and bought new bedding that would look nice on TV” (24). Through a diary form of writing, Suzie’s personal stresses in her life are exposed and her exterior put on by television is ruptured. The genre of a diary is used here by the unexpected genuine feelings that Suzie has toward herself as opposed to the so-called perfect exterior she is expected to show on camera. It is revealed that the life of a housewife is not always as perfect as shown on the outside, contrasting the thoughts of a viewer of the show named Akiko.

As Akiko was watching Suzie on the television, she imagines herself as a housewife, almost envying Suzie’s “perfect” lifestyle. Ozeki narrates, “The woman laughed. Her name was Suzie Flowers. What a beautiful name, thought Akiko. Suzie Flowers laughed easily, but Akiko was practicing how to do this too” (20). Watching the television show may have caused a sense of envy, but Akiko did not realize that the “ideal” lifestyle displayed on TV might possibly be blown out of proportion. Contrasting Shonagon. Akiko longs to be a housewife where as Shonagon is “filled with scorn” just at the thought of life as a housewife. This section of the story is influenced by the diary genre by showing the disadvantages of the lack of internal information. The audience can get a false perception of the person by only judging based on the exterior. This is exactly what Jane feels she needs to prevent.

Jane’s portion of the story is one of the more direct ways of diary writing that is displayed in Shonagon’s The Pillow Book. Jane’s thoughts are in first person, giving a direct feel to her thoughts, expressions, and doubts. In the story, she goes on to express her feelings about the TV show saying, “My American Wife! was dumb. Silly. After the first few shows, the New York staff stopped watching” (27). The diary genre inspires Ozeki’s story here by revealing the unhidden, blunt feelings of the Jane.  She sees that the show does not correctly represent the lives of the participants and feels as if she is driven to change this.

The diary form of writing, especially in first person, shows Jane’s internal feelings of self-purpose. In the story, Jane states, “I honestly believed I had a mission […] I was determined to use this window into mainstream network television to educate” (27). Her thoughts on paper show her position in the system of her business.

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