cover image Acts of Worship: Seven Stories

Acts of Worship: Seven Stories

Yukio Mishima. Kodansha America, $17.95 (205pp) ISBN 978-0-87011-937-8

This beautifully translated collection contains some Mishima's finest stories, none of them previously collected in an English edition. In the moving title story, the loyal, self-effacing housemaid of a solitary professor-poet ferrets out the secret of his lifelong sadness. Jack, in ``Raisin Bread,'' a pill-popping failed suicide at 22, his ``sole aim to become quite invisible,'' is a 1950s anti-hero who seems very contemporary. A proud youth in ``Fountains in the Rain,'' breaking up with his girlfriend, becomes captivated by a splashing fountain, which we see as a symbol of his own flamboyant egotism. ``Sword,'' a sweaty plunge into the world of college fencing, pits youth vs. age, animal pleasure vs. mental rigor, muscular prowess vs. meditative rapture. The seven stories vary in tone and subject matter, yet each reveals Mishima's total control, his gift for striking imagery and psychological insight. (Nov.)