Oooh, Japanese novels!
Funny, Friday, I ran across a new translation/new novellas of Tanizaki I’d not known about. I’m tempted to pick it up. And dumbass me forgot about them while at my favorite local indie bookstore oh, about half an hour ago.
Bought “Lab Girl” (because I play a botanist on TV) and Ocean Vuong’s “Night Sky With Exit Wounds” for me, and a handful of books for my son.
Back to Japanese novels: I went through a period when I was reading a fair amount: Tanizaki, Kawabata, Mishima (“Confessions of a Mask” kind of blew my mind back then), but the author who stuck with me the most–indeed, whom I rate as one of the all time greats in any language–is Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Short body of work, for a sadly short life, but if you’re a fan of say JL Borges, you will love Akutagawa. Extraordinary, stunning writer, quite apart from his Japanese contemporaries.
Incidentally, he wrote the short story on which Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” was based, although interestingly, there is another story called “At the Gate” which, in my opinion, has nearly as much to do with the genesis of the movie “Rashomon” as the story “Rashomon.” Just my weird opinion though.
He’s not widely read, and is worth reading.
Read most of Murakami up through the early 2000s. WUBC was good I thought; preferred it to WSC, but of the novels I think I actually slightly favored “Norwegian Wood” (or was it “South of the Border, West of the Sun?”).
I’m actually of the minority opinion that his strongest, or at least most interesting writing are the short stories collected in “The Elephant Vanishes.” I read them all twice. I liked them that much. Strongly recommended.
But take that with a grain of salt. My favorite Hubert Selby Jr. books are also his short story collection “Song of the Silent Snow,” my favorite Chekhov are actually his short stories, and my favorite Hemingway are his short stories.
Ignore at will.