Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Record of a night to brief by Hiromi Kawakami



"I could see the moon, high up in the sky, and I could feel the breeze gently caressing my skin, but nothing of what I was expecting might happen was happening."

That's exactly how I feel about "Record of a night to brief" by Hiromi Kawakami, and not in a good way.

This was one of the most frustrating set of short stories I've read in a while. Why? Because the story line was as nonsensical as the writing was beautiful.

Kawakami uses magic realism, and folktales to slowly open a nightmarish-dream world but stops there. And she doesn't 'take' you there, she dumps you there, hence the frustration.

In the first story "Record of a night too brief", there was no narrative. It was a series of sentences stating events totally unrelated and left unexplained. A narrator moves from one vision to another in an 'Alice in Wonderland' style. The series of visions never ends, it contradicts itself endlessly too. There was no end, no beginning, no middle even. .

The second short, "Missing" was lovely however. A family is about to marry their son but in their family people can become invisible and even disappear from everyone's memory if gone too long. His sister tries her hardest to not forget him and observes the event that follow his 'disappearance'.

The third and last short "A snake stepped on" started great but then became as nonsensical as the first. A woman steps on a snake by accident and this means that a snake will come and inhabit her home until she agrees to become a snake too. A seduction and struggle follow between these two, and the woman realises she's not the only one struggling, everyone around her has had a run-into snakes taking human forms too. As the story progresses, it looses its narrative grip and again goes into what I can only describe as a series of hermetic and cryptic sentences.

Despite this strange read, I'll still try to read Kawakami's novels though, but she's just not my thing in short story form.

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