Pound/Williams: Selected Letters of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams

Ezra Pound, Author, William Carlos Williams, Author, Hugh Witemeyer, Editor
Ezra Pound, Author, William Carlos Williams, Author, Hugh Witemeyer, Editor New Directions Publishing Corporation $39.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1301-1
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A sense of unease permeates this disturbing and exceptional collection of stories centered on unhappy women in postwar Japan who have ""never been able to be satisfied by ordinary love-making."" The focal character of the closing story, ""Bone Meat,"" a scorned woman who suffers an unhealthy passion for seafood, is among the least kinky of these protagonists. Most of Taeko's women have a penchant for being whipped or kicked or struck with ropes with hooks on them-and some seek even darker pleasures. In the title story, Hayashi Akiko, approaching middle age and involved in a dead-end relationship, has an attraction for small boys that many take to be maternal. She looks for them everywhere she goes-at the opera, in a bathhouse, on city alleys-and likes to buy them clothing. Her compulsion is far from motherly, however, having much more to do with her unhappy childhood, her repugnance for prepubescent girls and the ecstasy she finds as she fantasizes about a young boy getting disembowelled. The principal exception to the grisliness here is ""Full Tide,"" a sweet tale of a young girl who is made an eyewitness to her father's unexpected past. Although these 10 stories were published in Japan in the 1960s, Taeko, who has won a bouquet of top Japanese literary prizes including the Akutagawa, the Tanizaki and the Noma, is only now making her American debut. Her consistently stunning prose and the deft translation help keep the collection from becoming a gallery of grotesquerie. While there isn't much pathos to be found in her icy voice, moreover, it does bear the stamp of wisdom. (Mar.)
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