The Glass Slipper and Other Stories
Shotaro Yasuoka, , trans. from the Japanese by Royall Tyler. . Dalkey Archive, $22.95 (146pp) ISBN 978-1-56478-504-6
Yasuoka’s venal, youthful first-person narrators grasp at beauty and romance amid a changing Japan in these nine stories, all published in Japan in the early 1950s. In the opening tale, “The Wandering Minstrel,” a dreamy worker in a knitwear company unaccountably finds himself gaining the verse-loving boss’s favor by composing the company song, but soon finds himself enlisted as a suitor for the boss’s bovine niece. The title story records a night watchman’s fervent, sorrowful feelings for a naïve young girl whose strange, playful ways move him—and torment him, too. Similarly, a young romantic and his effete cronies move to downtown Tokyo in search of the lost shogunate era of Edo, only to find vulgarity and disillusionment. In “The Sword Dance,” an invalid son observes his father’s return from the military as a changed man, without self-confidence and ambition, prompting a troubling reversal of their roles. Tyler’s translation captures Yasuoka’s effortless style, registering dark but delightful impressions of youth.
Reviewed on: 03/24/2008