Thursday 7 February 2008

73. House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories

While I had read a few works of Japanese fiction before I discovered Yasunari Kawabata in Book City during one of my nights of seemingly endless browsing, his novel Beauty and Sadness really, I think, launched what may be considered my obsession with Japanese literature.

Since then, I've made a point of seeking out Kawabata's work and have generally enjoyed it exceedingly (especially Thousand Cranes and Snow Country), although I was somewhat disappointed by Palm-of-the-Hand Stories.

I got House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories some time last year through - a lovely man from Australia mailed it all the way to Canada for me - and decided after finishing my Wodehouse that I was ready again for some heavy surrealist fiction.

This tome comprises three stories: "House of the Sleeping Beauties" (about 90 pages), "The Arm" (about 25 pages), and "Of Birds and Beasts" (about 20 pages). All three deal in a dreamy and sometimes frightening way with the disconnect between erotic need and human disconnection, but I thought "The Arm" was the only one that did so in a really compelling way. That said, I wasn't so disappointed with the other two tales that I won't read Kawabata's stories again; they just won't be as high priority as his novels.

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