Yōko Ogawa à 7 eview413 provocative surreal interconnected stars The Pleasant Surprise Award of 2019 This short story collection by Ms Ogawa published in 1998 was highly creative and somewhat bizarre Themes of disconnection hurt and various forms of Hands Tied, A Hammer Story revenge permeate this group of stories Each story is linked to others and it is difficult and challenging to tease out which ones are based oneality and which are imaginal or perhaps even supernatural All but one story anged from excellent to superb That in itself is a emarkable feat In my usual fashion I will name the story give a ating and state an impression or snippetAfternoon at the Bakery a dead son and strawberry shortcakefragmented and eerie 4 starsFruit Juice A young woman meets her politician father as her mother is dyinga hapless friend tags along 4 starsOld Mrs J kiwis carrots and handsoh my 45 starsThe Little Dustman a tiny stepmom and a trip to the zoo45 starsLab Coats a very pretty secretary is oh so sociopathic 5 starsfavorite in collectionSewing for the Heart don t cross an artisan 4 starsWelcome to the Museum of Torture can a witness also torture and maim 4 starsThe Man who Sold Braces the joys and sorrows of an eccentric uncle 5 stars2nd favoriteThe Last Hour of the Bengal Tiger A jealous housewife is soothed by a dying Tiger 45 starsTomatoes and the Full Moon deja vu over and over again 4 starsPoison Plants a lecherous old woman and her protegedidn t buy this one 2 stars I will definitely ead by Ms Ogawa Last year I found a new literary love Y ko Ogawa I adored her dystopian poetic The Memory Police Then I was blown away by her Kang Sejo Melihat Tuhan ruthless Hotel Iris I love how she is able and willing to create meaningful stories with a darkly wise perspective and without a trace of North American sueamishness So I wasted little time to pick up her short story collection RevengeThe collection is written in her trademark simple elegance and translated by the marvellous Stephen Snyder And it s kinda Olive Kitteridge y in that the stories are all linked to each other even though they are stories that could stand on their own All stories are disturbing and strange andeading them is sort of like watching a thousand dominoes fall one after the other one hitting the next causing an avalanche of weirdness A child folded up in a efrigerator carrots that look like hands a coat made from a tiger s fur strawberry shortcake for a dead boy s birthdayWell maybe not an avalanche Because an avalanche implies power and high drama Even if they are haunting and strange these stories didn t have the impact for me that I experienced in her longer fiction I was waiting for the bite and the horror that I was promised the nasty pinch on the ass that makes you bleed and didn t get it Believe me though I still enjoyed spending time in her pages There are a LOT worse places to find yourself at the end of the day35 stars I admire writers who can write such deceptively simple sentences and with no exposition make everything clear that they want to be clear Ogawa at least with these stories is one of those writer Why was everyone dying They had all been so alive just yesterday Yoko Ogawa creates a dark wonder of sadness loneliness and unsettling desires in Revenge a collection of eleven seemingly disconnected stories However as is always the case with Ogawa s work nothing is as it seems and the tales are written in a matryoshka style Each story is connected to the previous one via a characteristic feature You will discover the clues as you go along the way as pain oblivion and death are standing by watching youWhat makes Revenge stand out is the seamless way in which brief scenes of daily life vivid and sharp and tender and melancholic are intertwined with the strange themes of the stories Paragraphs like these invite
you to Ogawa s world Families and tourists strolled through the suare enjoying the weekend Sueaky soundsto Ogawa s world Families and tourists strolled through the suare enjoying the weekend Sueaky sounds be heard from a man off in the corner who was twisting balloon animals A circle of children watched him entranced Nearby a woman sat on a bench knitting Somewhere a horn sounded A flock of pigeons burst into the air and startled a baby who began to cry The mother hurried over to gather the child in her arms Where had it all come from Outside the world lay under a blanket of white just as my uncle had said The air was still And Large Snowflakes Drifted Out Of The large snowflakes drifted out of the sky The street was empty and the car that had been lurking near the entrance had disappeared I walked gingerly over the unmarked snow When I turned to look back the window was dark Afternoon in the Bakery A woman buys a strawberry cake every year for her son s birthday But the boy died twelve years ago Fruit Juice A young woman tries to econcile with her estranged father with the help of a classmate Old Mrs J The haunting story of a writer and an old lady who is very fond of kiwis And strangely shaped carrots The Little Dustman A man is stuck in the metro due to technical issues as he tries to be on time for her step mother s funeral A tale of family tigers and Brahms Lab Coats Two young women work in the morgue Their job Confer reuires them to empty the pockets of the lab coats of the deceased Sewing for the Heart A young woman has a strange order for a bag maker She needs a special bag for her heart Welcome to the Museum of Torture A young woman is fascinated by the Museum of Torture Perhaps too fascinated The Man Who Sold Braces A young maneminiscences of his uncle a strange man hiding a few dark secrets The Las From the mundane to the creepy in eleven tales of loss of and separation from loved ones The prose was unremarkable as were the plot and characters but there was an icy current under her words and I found myself wanting to plunge into it again and againFrom a story centered around a mother trying to order strawberry shortcakes for the birthday of her son who is coincidentally dead having suffocated in a Eddie refrigerator to a landlord who turns out to be a murderer the tales in Revenge have a way of turning the mundane in the creepy through plain but effective language All stories are interconnected in at least two ways to other stories in the bundleseminiscent to Ghostwritten of David Mitchell if not driving to one overarching conclusion as this novelLoss or separation from loved ones often by death or divorce seems to be the heart of the stories in this bundle Revenge does not seem to be the most accurate of translation for the title Getting lost or being lost comes back a lot and serves as a catalyst to sometimes almost supernatural or Getting lost or being lost comes back a lot and serves as a catalyst to sometimes almost supernatural or least improbable events unfoldingAn example of the dark nature of the tales is included below At fifteen I took an overdose of sleeping pills I must have had a good The abbots house reason for wanting to kill myself but I ve forgotten what it was Perhaps I was just fed up with everything At anyate I slept for eighteen hours straight. An aspiring writer moves into a new apartment and discovers that her landlady has murdered her husband Elsewhere an accomplished surgeon is approached by a cabaret singer whose beautiful appearance belies the grotesue condition of her heart And while th. .
And when I woke up I was completely The Eagle Of The Ninth refreshed My body felt so empty and purified that I wondered whether I had in fact died But no one in my family even seemed to have noticed I had attempted suicideOnly thing I liked less was the use of I perspective narrators in all stories making it sometimes very hard to get a feel of the individuality of the narrators their voices are uite the same and even their genders are only known halfway in most of the tales In an interesting take on this in Japanese the verbs and in the way someone is addressed the gender is much clearAlso the setting in a sense is very generic I initially had a kind of Northern European vibe with it maybe due to clocktower being mentioned and having just seen Kiki s Delivery Service eveneinforced by a delay with a train which should be highly uncommon in JapanAnd there is something overdramatic in some sentences like Everyone I know has died My past is full of ghostsBut overall the bundle kept me eally engaged I loved the interconnections and some of the poetic and disturbing images Y ko Ogawa paints like a child in a efrigerator an abandoned building full of kiwi s a Mitos nrdicos (ncora Delfn) rotting strawberry cheesecake or carrots shaped like hands It was the title that struck me first of all that of Revenge Eleven Dark Tales and so on a whim I purchased it I had never heard of Yoko Ogawa beforeWhat an extraordinary selection of eleven short stories and what an imagination the author hasOne of my two favourites was Old Mrs J and what a lot she has to hide For a start the death of her husband is uite a mysteryImagine a carrot in the shape of a hand Well I kept on thinking about that and wondered what could possiblyesult from this Well to begin with there s the headline in the paper one day Curious carrots Hand shaped and fresh from Granny s garden And the ending Well that was superb and yes despite Taming the Alpha (Crescent Moon, reading this short story I do still love eating carrots in whatever form they come Lab Coats isather macabre medical and so I enjoyed this but what a dreadful death is described in it It s amazing what you can find in a lab coat say a tongue for exampleAs for Sewing for the Heart well many a true word is spoken in jest What a clich but how appropriate here And as for the poor hamster well that was sad Welcome to the Museum of Torture and all the Ptičje oko na tarabi rest of the short stories are excellent but what isemarkable is that there is a continuous flow from one story to another and that is so skilful in itself The Man Who Sold Braces for example is followed on by The Last Hour of the Bengal Tiger and they both have the tiger as a common denominator Also the so important final sentence or paragraph to each story that says it all The Tomatoes and the Full Moon is the most intriguing story however in the book I checked in at the front desk and picked up my key but when I opened the door I found a strange woman and her dog in my Quinlans Character Stars room A mistakenoom number 101 A woman with a bundle a black Labrador some tomatoes and theft of a manuscript It was called Afternoon at the Bakery It is so simple but so meaningfulI m going to change my mind This is indeed my favourite story in this collectionDeath murder suspicion blood mystery poignancy libraries etc flow throughout these Bittersüß remarkable stories and I think theye brilliantI will definitely purchase the Hotel Iris by this author Yoko Ogawa has made a name for herself as a writer who can unsettle her eaders with her precise detailed impassive prose Two of her previously published books Hotel Iris A Novel and The Diving Pool Three Novellas introduce themes of unsettled families unhealthy elationships between characters and food and sado masochism Another of her novels The Housekeeper and the Professor is a much gentler story showing Ogawa s The ScandiKitchen Summer range as a writer In Revenge Stories Ogawaevisits her earlier themes in an elegantly macabre collection of eleven linked stories Ogawa slowly and exuisitely shows her My Little Pony readers the perverse side of humanelationships almost as if she s moving a log to show us what is crawling underneath In many ways her stories are all the effective and terrifying because of their bland settings They could be taking place in Japan or the US For all you know they are unfolding Тарковский и я. Дневник пионерки right next door to youMy longereview which was posted at the California Literary Review is included belowYoko Ogawa is a household name in Japan She has published over 20 books short story collections novels and works of non fiction She has won five prestigious literary awards in Japan and in 2008 was awarded the Shirley Jackson Award for The Diving Pool a novella contained in the collection The Diving Pool Only four of her works have been translated into English Her most A Three Hat Day recent short story collection Revenge is likely to garner her attention from English speaking fans of literary fiction Japanese fiction and horror alike The collection has been describedepeatedly as Japanese Gothic a label which captures some of the atmosphere of ominous mystery in the stories but which fails to convey the sense of almost sterile anonymity of her characters or the precision with which Ogawa slowly builds a sense of horror to a crescendo by the precise description and accrual of detail after detail Ogawa begins by showing her Paranormal Realities II readers the apparently boring normal face of human society and then slowly lets this face of normality slide back toeveal decomposition death and emptinessOgawa is masterful at depicting a seemingly normal scene with a tinge of fear that all may not be as bland and outine as it first appears She establishes this atmosphere in the opening paragraphs of the first story Afternoon at the Bakery It was a beautiful Sunday The sky was a cloudless dome of sunlight Out on the suare leaves fluttered in a gentle breeze along the pavement Everything seemed to glimmer with a faint luminescence the oof of the ice cream stand faucet on the drinking fountain the eyes of a stray cat even
THE BASE OF THE CLOCK TOWER COVERED WITHbase of the clock tower covered with pigeon and tourists strolled through the suare enjoying the weekend Sueaky sounds could be heard from a man off in the corner who was twisting balloon animals A circle of children watched him entranced Nearby a woman sat on a bench knitting Somewhere a car horn sounded A flock of pigeons burst into the air and startled a baby who began to cry The mother hurried over to gather the child in her armsYou could gaze at this perfect picture all day an afternoon
in light comfort and perhaps never notice a single detail out of place or missingAs in Ogawa s other writing such as The Diving Pool food becomes a focus for displaced love but holds within it not a substitute for human affection and closeness but excess without the possibility of satiety In Fruit Juice the narrator is invited by a classmate to have dinner in a French Taken Completely (His Rules restaurant with her. E surgeon’s jealous lover vows to kill him a violent envy also stirs in the soul of a lonely craftsman Desire meets with impulse and erupts attracting the attention of the surgeon’s neighbor who is drawn to a decayingesidence that is now home to And her father whom she has never met before After the dinner the two classmates come across an abandoned post office They One of my favorite books this year Every story was dark and had a somber feel to them all the while every short story linking perfectly to one another I took advantage of leap year 2020 to get a head start on my women s history month Farm to Factory reads In the past yeareading books by women around the world has been lacking so I decided to make this year s lineup diverse All through March I will be eading books written by women mainly about women some fiction and many biographies and memoirs Over the last five years one of the books that sticks out for me is The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa This touching story is centered around two things I thoroughly enjoy baseball and a boy who loves both the sport and math With that in mind I decided to ead another book by the same author only this time the genre changed to mystery I have seen people include Revenge on Eat or Be Eaten! reading through the decades challenges as their 1990s selection and the book has gotten many positiveeviews With that in mind I decided to The Sheiks Angry Bride (War, Love, Harmony Series, read Ogawa s short mystery Revenge is only 160 pages in length and a series of interlocking vignettesather than a full length mystery Had I known that I probably would have passed on this book as I favor longer whodunnits The writing along with the translation by Stephen Snyder are impeccable just a tad dark for my liking The premise of these tales takes place in one town over a course of what could be days weeks or months The author allows the The Believer, Issue 99 reader to decide that for herself None of the protagonists knows of the others existence until they pop up in another story so one has toead carefully in case they miss a detail that could occur later on The first story begins with a woman at a bakery She is buying two strawberry shortcakes for her son s birthday which sounds like a touching way to begin the book giving me the false impression that Revenge was much like Ogawa s other book that I loved Much to my chagrin the woman s son is dead having asphyxiated in an empty Take Me Series Box Set refrigerator at age six He will always be six and twelve years later she hasn t gotten past his death choosing to honor the birthday with the same cake that she bought on that fateful day With ten vignettes I knew that this might be tough going Ogawa s subjects are so far fetched to me but I gave her the benefit of the doubt There is the love triangle of a doctor his wife and lover We find him stabbed to death in the lover s apartment because she had grown impatient with him to leave the wife It turns out in another story that this doctor was a worldenown The Turkey Farm respiratory surgeon He was going to perform surgery on a cabaret singer whose heart had been outside of her body when he turned up dead Later we find out that she had been murdered as well This news is so far fetched and yet it keeps popping up in the other vignettes The only story that wasn t too macabre only far fetched for me took place at aesort hotel featuring a travel writer A lady donated tomatoes to the hotel kitchen and the fruit made its presence felt in all of the items ordered by the travel writer This lady and her black Labrador keep following the writer around making him feel a tad uncomfortable She was even his audience of one while he was swimming Sorry to say but if I saw a total stranger staring at me swim I would be calling security Even though no one actually died in this particular vignette it was just a little strange What completely downgraded this book for me was deaths of dolphins and a bengal tiger Between that and the death of a six year old I was done Having kids and cats having both die in the same book had me ealizing that maybe this is not the book for me Maybe it is the cultural gap between Japan and the United States Maybe something was lost in translation although this I highly doubt because Snyder is well egarded as a translator Regardless I know Yoko Ogawa has been lauded for her ability to tell mysterious tales With my over active imagination and my dislike of the dark and macabre I will stick to cozy mysteriesbathed in light
or at least the series that I know best As for Ogawaat least the series that I know best As for Ogawa will stick to her heartwarming tales of baseball If she wrote another book featuring the characters in that book provided it is not too macabre I know I would Prayogshala Nepali Sankramanma Dilli Ra Maobadi read it Yoko Ogawa is a fine author just Revenge was not my taste 3 stars 2 story 4 writing 45 translation Compared to other Ogawa books this one is weak but as a standalone it is no and no less than meh fine by me It is just fine a woo without an exclamation point A straight faced monotone woo probably accompanied by a lethargic blink and some dried up streamlets of slobber Seriously it is totally just fineThe thing with Ogawa that I love is the way sheenders a scene She s makes these little minimalist snapshots in these muted pastels like polaroids but with horrifying subject matter that seems totally out of place frozen in time all bright and milk n honey like that She s generally a sensory than intellectual eading experience like art uh films
Uh Than Lit Uhthan lit uh something This novel or short story collection or whatever you want to call it has some of that awesome icky in the light of day going on but seems to ely on the disturbed feelings these images The Rocker That Uses Me rouse simply by the nature of what they are creepy disturbing thingsather than using them as foundational blocks to build up from via craft She doesn t A Shadow of Treason (Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War really play with her sick twisty ideas as much hereather just throws them on the page and lets em do all the work And they are lazy buggersOh and stringing together a bunch of different stories by having the characters cross paths at some point doesn t turn your short story collection into a novel about murderers and mourners mothers and children lovers and innocent bystanders their fates converging in a darkly beautiful web that they are each powerless to escape It makes it a short story collection featuring murderers and mourners mothers and children lovers and innocent bystanders Look I get that Tokyo is crowded enough that it probably blows your mind when you even see the face of your upstairs neighbor than once in an entire lifetime but that doesn t mean every crossed path has some crazy profound meaning Besides none of these people should even know each other in the first fuckin place Y ask me they are all far too psychotic to be building any webs together beautiful or otherwise It is for the bestAnyway this SHORT STORY COLLECTION is totally fine It just seems like maybe Ogawa got pressured to elease another novel and all she had was this notebook full of sketches for novels and she just couldn t bring herself to flesh any of them out because life happens so she scotch taped them all together and gave us this instead And it is stupefyingly just oka. Nstruments of human torture Murderers and mourners mothers and children lovers and innocent bystanders their fates converge in an ominous and darkly beautiful webYoko Ogawa’s Revenge is a master class in the macabre that will haunt you to the last pag. ,