Sometimes as delicate as haiku, at others samurai-like in their robustness, these stories cry out for a translator with a sensitive ear and a taste for words. But here the plodding prose, the use and reuse of throwaway phrases, the clumsy dialogue contrive to turn each shyly articulated episode into a banal account and obscure the distinctiveness of the voice and setting. In ""The Little Girl and the Rapeseed Flower,'' when a dying blossom pleads with a child to save its life, or in ``Han's Crime,'' in which a performing knife-thrower, his vision blurred, perhaps accidentally, perhaps willfully, kills the wife with whom he had quarreled, each e incident serves as a frame for self-discovery. More complex, ``The Paper Door'' delineates two vacationing families, and the maidservant of one falls in love with the young master of the other, mistakenly believing that he too is infatuated. The longest of the stories, ``Kuniko,'' again involving a man indirectly responsible for the death of his wife, invites the reader into a Japanese household to observe its customs and wonder at its duplicities. Turbulence lies beneath these smiling surfaces, but inept prose makes the richness hard to find. (March 15)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1987 Release date: 03/01/1987 Genre: Fiction
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