Thursday, 15 November 2007

53. The Crimson Labyrinth

Based on how extraordinarily ambitious it was of me to start reading Livy (I haven't picked it up since before I left Italy), I've decided that from now on, I will only post here about books after I've finished reading them.

I received The Crimson Labyrinth as part of my windfall of birthday books in August - this one from my mother. I picked it up the day before yesterday as a sort of antidote to the hyper-seriousness of Pamuk's My Name is Red, which while generally very good, was unrelentingly earnest. I don't think I'm up for unrelentingly earnest right now, so I plan to follow up Kishi's novel with something either sillier or more fantastical, though I'm not yet sure what.

I really enjoyed The Crimson Labyrinth and hope that more of Kishi's novels are soon translated into English. It was fast, well-plotted, never bogged down by unnecessary verbiage or information, and would have scared me if I hadn't already read Battle Royale. It didn't frighten me, but it did hold my attention unwaveringly.

As it is, I am intellectually, if not viscerally, intrigued by the way horror in fiction in Japan seems to be manifesting itself in part in a very specific kind of way (this doesn't apply, for example, to Koji Suzuki's Ring series).

Based on what I know (which is admittedly very little), Japan (like Korea) is very much a game culture and both these fantastically popular novels make gaming into something turned against the player and imposed upon them against their will.

I'll be interested to see whether or not I come across more Japanese pulp playing out and upon the same fears as The Crimson Labyrinth and Battle Royale do. If I do, I'll try to formulate a theory about this trend, which will undoubtedly turn out to be off base (but hopefully not as off base and boring as all of Peter Carey's shiteous Wrong About Japan).

For those of you (Roger) curious to know how I heard about this author, I found The Crimson Labyrinth one night while browsing in Book City on the Danforth. I've had a lot of luck just browsing there, especially in the K-M sections for some reason.

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