Essentially #1 for 2014. Thirst for Love, Yukio Mishima. 200 pages.
I finished this last Thursday, and decided now would be a fitting time to finally update this blog. There’s a bookstall at ANU every Thursday selling second-hand books, where I nabbed this. I quite enjoyed the succint style of writing Mishima employed with this text, although, the ending wasn’t as great as I’d have liked. Too abrupt for my liking, although I definitely didn’t see it coming… so it was decent enough in that regard.
There are some great passages within this text, and there’s one that is always quoted, and after reading it, I can see why, but this particular phrase stuck with me. I may be misquoting…
'Sometimes jiltings run in series – like miscarriages. Her nervous system has just got into the habit of it, I suppose, and when she falls in love it has to end in a miscarriage.'
Four stars, check it out, if you’re interested.
4:38 am • 5 March 2014 • 2 notes
I finished A Wild Sheep Chase on the plane from Sydney to Cairns, and had nothing left to read from Cairns to Tokyo. It was the worst day of my life. I started The Makioka Sisters in Nara, but got halfway through and couldn’t read anymore.
Every now and again, I will go through this period where I just cannot finish a book. One page, ten pages, one hundred… eventually I just put it down, intending for that to be temporary, and never pick it up again.
I think I might pick up The Woman in the Dunes and see how I go with finishing it, although seeing a pile of books with bookmarks scattered throughout all of them is incredibly depressing.
I guess you win this time, Art Garfunkel.
8:02 am • 31 January 2014 • 1 note
Some Prefer Nettles
202 pages, finished 7/10/12.
Some Prefer Nettles is my second experience of Tanizaki, and I have a few more stacked in my to-read pile, and it can definitely be tough work. I remember reading an introduction to one of his books before about how he believes dialogue and setting should shape a novel, and what a reader is meant (supposed?) to put back in to fully understand the work.
That all being said, even though on the surface, Some Prefer Nettles is a little complex, I enjoyed it. Preferred it over The Key, which, to be completely honest, was lost on me. Four stars.
8:52 pm • 8 October 2013 • 1 note
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
262 pages, finished 11/09/2013.
Mishima is definitely one of the greatest writers around, and hopefully one day I can read this in the language it was written in. I’ve read a bit of notes about his work from the various translators that have worked on it to deepen my understanding a little bit, but I feel like I can’t know until I get there myself. I’ve been getting slowly through After the Banquet but it was a little tougher compared to this, which I enjoyed from the start.
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’s blurb implies it is based on somewhat of a true story, and while parts of it seem to be, the psychology of the main character is definitely something Mishima has handcrafted, and it is a very interesting read. You should read this book. Five stars.
6:40 am • 12 September 2013 • 5 notes
A Personal Matter
214 pages, finished 28/8/2013.
This is a book that often pops up on most peoples favourites lists from the post-war era, and Kenzaburō Ōe is nearly always on someone’s list of favourite Japanese novels. This was my first experience of his writing, and while I found it a little difficult to begin with, it was a good read by the end.
I felt like the ending, or the way the ending came out was a little bit of a cop out. It somewhat ruined the entire build up of the story, that said—it was not a bad ending, though. One of the bleakest books I have ever read, and if you like that kind of thing, I suggest you check it out. Four stars.
9:53 pm • 28 August 2013 • 2 notes
Behind the Waterfall
213 pages, finished 23/8/2013.
I went to a school fete earlier in the year, my old school, and had a quick browse of the second hand book stall. It was full of shit. There was pretty much nothing there worth even picking up. However, this book was in a pile of crime fiction thrillers, and I picked it up purely because of the author’s Japanese name. Sweater, right? Anyway, I couldn’t find anything about her online, no other books or reviews, pretty much empty. Strange. I wonder who owned it before me and how it ended up in such a weird book stall?
All history aside, I quite liked this book. Made up of three short stories, I found them all to focus on similar themes. The first focuses on the alienation of a child actor and how she copes, the second a story of a husband and wife which turns sour, and the third, the longest, an inside look at the morality behind television. The third has an interesting angle, but the first maintains a passionate mood throughout, even with the story out of the original language. Four stars.
8:21 am • 23 August 2013
House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories
149 pages, finished 21/8/2013.
Usually when it comes to reading a new book, I skip over the prefaces or introductions and leave them for after, if at all, as they usually spoil the plot or contain major spoilers. This time though, I read it first: written by Yukio Mishima. It did indeed contain major spoilers, but still left the majority of the text as an unknown and out for interpretation—but offered some insight into the… weirder parts of the novel.
All the stories within this book, or collection, are filled with hundreds of smaller ones. Little memories within memories, similar to when someone is recounting a tale and they sidetrack off on something else entirely until you can no longer remember where you were originally. This book does it over and over again, but subtly, almost unnoticeably. I guess that’s why he won a Nobel Prize, and Mishima thought it was his best work. Four stars.
3:15 am • 21 August 2013 • 4 notes
South of the Border, West of the Sun
190 pages, finished 14/8/2013.
At first glance, the blurb for this novel describes a pretty simple boy meets girl childhood romance faced with the inevitability of falling apart eventually. Nothing too special in the description, or the inevitable fact that they will of course, meet again. Kind of reminds me of one of my favourite movies (shoot me), Serendipity, in a small way.
Nevertheless, despite the almost obviousness of the plot (or, what you think is the plot, anyway) it never seemed to work out as I was expecting. A lot of twists and turns throughout this book made an interesting read, and of course there is the ending which, is definitely a Murakami thing—which is left unresolved. I won’t spoil it for you. This book is nothing giant or huge, so I recommend reading it. Four and a half stars.
7:16 pm • 14 August 2013 • 1 note
173 pages, finished 12/8/2013.
Botchan was, as the blurb described it, akin to a Japanese telling of Huckleberry Finn— but I found it considerably more light hearted. This book is touted as “the widest read book in Japan”, and I can see why, but there isn’t much to it besides a few laughs here and there at the main characters misfortunes. It is a likeable story, something you might revisit on a plane or a train, whilst waiting to go somewhere else. Not to say I didn’t like it, I did—but it wasn’t shell shocking. Three and a half stars.
7:19 am • 12 August 2013 • 3 notes
229 pages, finished 9/8/2013.
Sputnik Sweetheart is by no means a giant chunky book, so last night when I went to sit in the bath and read and had finished the book I was reading earlier in the day, I picked it up and started to read it. Two and a half hours later, I was still reading it—there was something about it and I couldn’t put it down. At face value it’s just a story of boy meets girl, and the girl meets someone else, but it’s layered carefully to make it a little more interesting than that one sentence summary.
The ending was the strangest part—in a way, without sounding idiotic, reminded me of the final scene in Inception, or any thriller in that vein where you are totally unsure whether the narrator is awake or dreaming? This isn’t a rare think in Murakami novels, with Dance Dance Dance just being one of the many that feature similar ambiguous endings. There is no real concice and open ending, and that isn’t just for the narrator—most of the characters are the same—unresolved. Four and a half stars.
10:38 pm • 9 August 2013 • 1 note