Monday, 23 April 2012

69

(March 2012)



I deserved this one. After a Japanese novel in translation – which was dire – and a short book about a teenager – who was suicidal – I end up reading a short Japanese book in translation, about a teenager. Fortunately it isn’t dire and the protagonist actually seems to want to live.

I’ve read a couple of Ryu Murakami’s other books, and they weren’t exactly light and fluffy. Cinephiles among you may know him as the author of the source material for Audition, as well as other more niche works. I wasn’t expecting a laugh riot, despite my wife’s insistence that this was funny. I picked it primarily because it’s been on the shelf for ages now and it’s short.

I should listen to my wife more. This is very funny. Maybe it’s because Murakami captures the exact combination of sarcasm and cowardice I remember having as a clever but lazy teenage boy. Maybe it’s the desperate, impossible longing for the prettiest girl in the school which rings a bell. Maybe because I work in a Japanese High School I can picture exactly what’s being described, even forty years on.

Maybe it’s just a good book. Smart and piss funny, with idiosyncratic typesetting to boot. It’s even got some shameless innuendo in the title; what’s not to like?

8 comments:

  1. Cool beans~ Ryu doesn't have any relation to Haruki Murakami by any chance, eh??

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    1. Nope, but H is on record as saying R is his favourite writer. Very different though.

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  2. FWIW...
    I thought the cover art was a nod and wink at those of us who think we see Vaginas everywhere...;)

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    1. It's a flower. IT'S A FLOWER.



      But yeah. Also a vagina.

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    2. Damn, what are you two sleeping with (no disrespect meant to any particular woman by that, you understand)? If that's a vagina, there's no getting through the layers: majora and minora are plenty.

      It was after 'Coin Locker Babies' I decided I'm wasting my time on Japanese literature, even in translation. Can he write scenes etched on my memory? Sure: crocodiles bouncing along the Tohoku Expressway, divers fighting to the death drugged by datura... Did it make anything like sense? Not a bit.

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    3. That's the trouble with you Canucks, no imagination or romance...

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  3. I must confess, even though I've lived lived in Japan for 7 years and have studied the language for about 10, I've only read a few books by Japanese authors. But, since it's short (as you say), I'll give it a try. Now to see if I know someone who'll lend me a copy...

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    Replies
    1. Apparently in the original Japanese it's written in fairly thick Nagasaki-ben. This apparently makes it even funnier, though again I'm having to take my wife's word for that. She's not been wrong about this so far, mind.

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