Standard Deviations by Karl Taro Greenfeld
Growing Up and Coming Down in the New Asia

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review



“I was twenty-three and I had set off for Asia to become a writer, intrigued by lurid tales of booms, busts, drugs, sex, violence, magic. There was a wicked sorcery in Asia, in the economic profligacy of the early nineties, in the way financiers and businessmen took a rapidly wiring and developing continent and looted billions, like a titanic parlor trick converting all that wealth into abandoned office complexes and half-completed shopping malls. . . . I wanted it all—the money, the sex, the drugs. And to this day I believe that if I am honest with myself, despite all I have learned the hard way over the past decade, I would still want it all again, the fucking and the getting loaded and the scheming to get enough money to pay for that life.”

In the late 1980s, not long out of college, Karl Taro Greenfeld found himself stranded in New York, a failed writer before his career had even begun. His Jewish-American father angrily cut off support; his Japanese mother suggested he go to Japan to teach English. He did, accepting a job with no more promise than he’d had before. But he stayed in Asia for the next several years, working his way through a series of journalistic posts, watching a culture erupt before his eyes and facing his own demons. Through a series of vividly imagistic stories that range from the rigidly journalistic to the deeply intimate, Standard Deviations recounts Greenfeld’s experiences—both professional and personal—during Asia’s wild ride at the end of the twentieth century. Whether drinking Japanese cough syrup to get high with other Western expatriates, visiting a free-sex ashram in Bombay, or watching a former high school pal self-destruct as an equity analyst in Jakarta, Greenfeld evokes the spirit of a continent in flux at an explosive “bubble” economy’s end—and a man confronting his own identity and aspirations.

Raunchy, insightful, eloquent and moving, Standard Deviations is an uncompromising work of cultural observation and self-exploration.

About Karl Taro Greenfeld

See more books from this Author
Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of five previous books, including the much-acclaimed memoir Boy Alone; NowTrends; China Syndrome; Standard Deviations; and Speed Tribes. Greenfeld's fiction has appeared in such renowned publications as The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories, American Short Fiction, The PEN/O Henry Prize Stories, The Missouri Review, One Story, Commentary, The Southern Review, and The Sun. A veteran editor and writer for The Nation, TIME, and Sports Illustrated, Karl has also been a frequent contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times, GQ, Vogue, Conde Nast Traveler, Playboy, Men's Journal, The Washington Post, Outside, Wired, Details, and Salon. Born in Kobe, Japan, Karl has lived in Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and TRIBECA. Visit his website at
Published May 15, 2013 by Villard. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Standard Deviations

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

This doesn’t necessarily make the earlier chapters easier to read, but it’s gratifying to find him irritated with carbon copies of his younger self and a relief to see him finally, as promised, “coming down.” An exhausting journey through one man’s ego as all the drugs and girls in Asia gradually...

| Read Full Review of Standard Deviations: Growing ...

Reader Rating for Standard Deviations

An aggregated and normalized score based on 14 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review