Kangaroo Notebook

Kobo Abe, Author, Maryellen Toman Mori, Translator Alfred A. Knopf $22 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-42412-3
In his last novel, Abe, who died in 1993, repeatedly swings with ease from outlandish shenanigans to grisly surrealism. The unnamed narrator is a low-level employee at an office-supply firm who, in jest, proposes a new product called a Kangaroo Notebook. His assignment to produce a rough sketch of the notebook is interrupted, however, when he discovers, while eating breakfast, that radish sprouts are growing where his leg hair used to be. At a dermatology clinic, he meets a disturbingly seductive nurse, after which he is then strapped to a bed in an operating room and tranquilized. From this point, the narrator's experiences grow increasingly hallucinatory as he is released into the world with nothing more than a blanket and a hospital bed, which turns out to be a remarkable machine with its own agenda. Buffeted about, seemingly deprived of free will, the narrator lands in a corner of hell, where he takes a sulfur-spring cure and meets child-demons who perform for tourists and the villainous specter of his own mother. More than once, he is rescued by the nurse from the clinic, who, it turns out, collects blood for her own mysterious purposes and has a strange American boyfriend named Master Hammer Killer, who conducts research into sudden deaths. As events propel the narrator toward the Japanese Euthanasia Club, Abe (The Woman in the Dunes; The Ark Sakura) deftly blends antic comedy with metaphysical dread while maintaining the internal logic of a narrative which, in its lighthearted obsession with death, feels less like a whistling past the graveyard than a winking message from beyond. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Show other formats


Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-679-74663-8
Hardcover - 978-0-517-19822-3
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1892-4
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.