Monday 7 January 2013

Snakes and Earrings

Hitomi Kanehara, 2004 [David James Karashima, 2005]
(December 2012)

You remember when you were in school and had to write an essay, but knew you really had nothing to say? How you’d try to make it seem like it was longer by writing really big, double spacing, and leaving even more space after the margin than there was before it (I know, handwritten essays, how terribly 20th century)? Well, that’s exactly what the publishers have done with this book.

Because it’s short. It’d be pushing definitions to breaking point to even call it a novella; it would take longer to watch the movie they made from it than to read the original. All of which is incidental when compared to the quality of the work. It’s really no surprise that Ryu Murakami sings its praises on the back cover. This is right up his street, right up to the piercing, body modification, and bleak ultraviolence.

Hmm. Clockwork Orange, you say? Well, just maybe you might be on to something. Teen alienation, sexual violence, submission and domination, nihilism that would be terrifying in an adult, let alone a teenager. I should probably stop there, given I’m basing this all on the film. Another book to add to the ‘should probably get around to reading at some point’ pile.  


  1. Is there a less enthusiastically named pile? If so, add it to that one.

  2. Do you think Ryu Murakami is actually any good? I'm sure every person outside of Japan has stumbled across his books while searching for Haruki Murakami and then was impressed by the outrageousness of it all, drugs and sodomy, et cetera.

    Words like "prize winning" without mentioning what prize and "cult classic" usually mean that it is rubbish. The cover is fucking shit and so is the title, that's for sure.

    1. Yeah, I really rate him, to be honest. You're probably right about how people find out about him, but he's significant in his own right, I think.

      This won the Akutagawa Prize, which is actually fairly major as far as I'm aware. In fairness I doubt most English speaking readers would have heard of it, so I can see why not naming would make sense. You're right about 'cult classic' being meaningless though.

      There's a tit on the cover! It's a very tasteful tit, mind. I genuinely didn't realise what it was until I was looking for a picture online for this post. Shows how much attention I pay to that kind of thing nowadays, sadly :(