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Kangaroo Notebook

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  694 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
In the last novel written before his death in 1993, one of Japan's most distinguished novelists proffered a surreal vision of Japanese society that manages to be simultaneously fearful and jarringly funny. The narrator of Kangaroo Notebook wakes on morning to discover that his legs are growing radish sprouts, an ailment that repulses his doctor but provides the patient wit ...more
Hardcover, 183 pages
Published April 23rd 1996 by Knopf (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,564)
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Dec 20, 2013 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This is a very hallucinogenic novel: Japanese salaryman wakes up with a bad case of the Kafka (Cronenbergian body horror: radish sprouts growing itching and festering on his shins), goes to a rundown clinic and ends up traveling around his city and into the Underworld belted to and for the most part dependent on his sentient hospital bed (more Cronenbergian body horror: half-man/half-machine hybrid)...and for all that, it maintains its momentum, it retains its in-story logic, it comes to an obv ...more
Yum, radish sprouts.

His final novel, what a pity that he died relatively young. This was so funny and weird, I love Kobo Abe, it's always a joy to read him.
Sep 15, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kafka wishes he was this good. There, I said it.
A Bookworm Reading (Plethora)
The tagline to attract one to this book, "The narrator of Kangaroo Notebook wakes one morning to discover that his legs are growing radish sprouts, an ailment that repulses his doctor but provides the patient with the unusual ability to snack on himself." This just sounded too odd to not give it a chance. I found this to be a puzzling book, I never did fully understand what was going on, what I was to take away from the story. This does describe a book coming from the absurdist fiction genre, Ab ...more
Tim Lepczyk
It's difficult to know where to start in talking about Kangaroo Notebook byKōbō Abe. If I were to condense my impression into some blurbesque phrases, I'd say, a surreal journey, a dark interpretation on the border between life and death,imaginative, unlike anything I've read. If I were to stray away from cute phrases, then I might describe the novel in this way.

Kangaroo Notebook starts in a bland setting that many readers can identify.

"It should have turned out like any other morning.

I was mu
Oct 31, 2011 Darryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This novel was more strange than surreal, yet somehow readable. I think I would have to take a hallucinogenic drug to come close to understanding it, though. The main character is a Japanese man who wakes up to find that radish plants are growing out of pores on both of his legs (fortunately the plants are tasty, so he is able to snack on them at times). He undertakes an increasingly bizarre journey to seek a cure for his malady, occasionally aided and accompanied by an attractive nurse who coll ...more
Dec 29, 2008 Benjamin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
perhaps I've never read anything crazier. Not sci-fi, not magical realism, more like nightmare comedy. Could be a secret relative of The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien. One of the things that drove me crazy pleasurably was the main character's lack of anxiety or real doubt while moving across this hell-terrain. He never gets lost in self-doubt or in some kind of existentialist dialogue. If anything, he remains stoic, cocky at times, enchanted by the newness of the moment, lusty, irritating log ...more
Blind Lemon Dufflecoat
I can imagine that the Kafkaesque infliction of the main character is the main reason people either read or avoid this book. However the characters infliction his legs turning into radishes, is the catalyst to his strange journey as opposed to being the centre of the story. A lot of the book is written in a dream logic but does still follow a linear pattern. Events from the characters past become part of the dream logic to reveal the choices he has made, which leads to the revelations about the ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this at Booksmith on Haight st. During checkout the clerk said "whoa, I love that book, it's like a cross between Metamorphosis and Naked Lunch!" This is a great summary. Highly recommended if you enjoyed either of those books. Or if you dislike radishes.
Julie Buffaloe-Yoder
Oct 26, 2008 Julie Buffaloe-Yoder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Amber
Amber turned me on to Kobo Abe. Awesome writer. Surreal but makes a big statement (at least for me). I would recommend Abe's work to anyone, especially poets.
Kelly O'Dowd
I feel like there is something I'm missing. Something that's inherently Japanese that I just am missing because of my Americanness. Still worth reading.
Tristan Goding
Feb 02, 2016 Tristan Goding rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a story of a man who is turning into a radish. With a premise like that, you know it's going to be quite a ride. KANGAROO NOTEBOOK is definitely not for all tastes. The writing is surreal, bitter, biting, more than a little dark, and is often outlandish and absurd to the highest order, yet I cannot say I walked away from this book feeling dissatisfied. It's an aggressive piece, but not without a certain degree of poignancy. Give it a try if you are interested, but don't say I didn't warn yo ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Saoirse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so random and it makes me laugh at how ridiculous it is- def my kind of book.
I feel like the main character took some hallucinatory drugs and had a crazy dream.
btw, what is the significance of the kangaroo notebook if the rest of his journey is about his radish sprout disease and his surreal journey into the underworld and back? Haha

First few pages mentions the kangaroo notebook and then the hallucinations begin (imo)-
the weird telekinetic bed that moves at his mind's will, his tr
Aug 11, 2013 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fanatasy
What would you do if you woke up one morning to find radish sprouts starting to grow on the shins of your leg up to your knees? In the case of the narrator of this book, he takes himself off to a dermatologist, causes the doctor to throw up, is hooked up to an IV and catheter by an attractive nurse named Damselfly, strapped onto a hospital bed, and then discharged, with a note from the doctor to visit a sulfur hotspring in the Valley of Hell. And so begins our narrator's wild adventure. He wills ...more
neko cam
Perhaps it was the cultural divide or something, but I simply did NOT get 'Kangaroo Notebook' at all. It started off alright, quirky in a 'Japanese literature' kind of way, and got progressively more surreal and confusing as it went.

Though I can't explain exactly why, it felt as if the plot held very little weight. Perhaps it was an inability to sympathize with the protagonist very well, or an (unintended?) result of the dream-like nature of the narrative itself. Either way, I didn't feel very i
David Streever
Our narrator wakes to discover he has radish sprouts growing on his lower legs.

He goes to a doctor to be cured, but after a difficult wait & an examination that prompts his doctor to throw up (because he had just finished eating normal radish sprouts) the unnamed narrator goes on a surreal journey via his hospital bed. He encounters the police--a bizarre bomb/terror plot--and the sexy nurse from the doctor's office repeatedly, who saves him from all sorts of problems. She's trying to collect
Mar 16, 2013 Viktorija rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
"Kangaroo Notebook" - one of the best examples of the literary surrealism that I've ever seen (although I haven't read as many books). The story begins when an office worker puts a small note with words "kangaroo notebook" to a newly established "box of ideas". Later on even more interesting thing happens: white radishes start growing on his calves (and here the questions begin rising: why radishes? Why WHITE radishes? Is this only the author's precision or does the color have a meaning? (well, ...more
Chumbert Squurls
I had just read Abe's masterpiece, Secret Rendezvous, and wanted to get more surreal Japanese action. I was foolish enough to pick Abe's final novel, the strange(rather than surreal), dizzying(rather than enlightening), and disarmingly gross, Kangaroo Notebook. When surrealists(not only official surrealists) get old their dreamlike creations get rotten(take Dali, Bunuel, Maya Deren, Miro etc...)This book asks no philosophical questions, nor does it attempt to answer them. It chugs along abruptly ...more
May 09, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
Kobo Abe’s last novel feels like the Alice in Wonderland of a middle-aged man. When radish sprouts begin growing from the narrator’s legs, he seeks help at a hospital, where his bed suddenly takes him for a wild ride into a world of hallucinations.

The book’s title stems from a mock business proposal in which our narrator randomly wrote down the words “Kangaroo Notebook” and was eagerly met by his associates to develop the idea of this notebook. Throughout the story pop in images of marsupials. M
Thurston Hunger
I came across Kobo Abe after catching the intriguing film version of "Woman in the Dunes." Here we have another journey though a strange world, but it is largely hallucinatory. Or perhaps symbolic, where the symbols just didn't stick for me.

Yes at times there was a hint of an assailing of modern medical treatment, and the surreal qualities might trigger more humor for others than for me, again I think I do not connect so well with Japanese humor. The first 30 or so pages was an effort to get thr
Jan 19, 2009 Trin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, japanese-lit
Just to give you an idea of where I’m coming from here, allow me to confess: I am not a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Didn’t like it when I was a kid, wasn’t fond of it when I reread it for a class in college. (I bet you can guess how AWESOME it is listening to a bunch of over-eager English majors start insisting that Alice is really a metaphor for post-colonial blah blah blah.) I do dig me some whimsy (not to mention some Wimsey), and as my recent Murakami marathon has made clear, I ...more
Apr 20, 2015 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel of high absurdity, a picturesque descent into madness. Impossible to recommend because of it's strangeness. Anyone in their right mind would be unable to help throwing the book down and yelling, "What the hell is going on?!" But I loved every nightmarish manifestation. If you can shut your rational brain down and enjoy the ride you're left with some really unforgettable images. This is the extreme of surrealism and it was a great way for Abe to conclude his career.
Gertrude & Victoria
Abe Kobo's Kangaroo Notebook is his last novel and radically different to most of his earlier to middle compositions. It unabashedly dwells in the absurd. In this narrative, the protagonist seeks treatment for his legs upon discovering that something strange is happening to them. Later he realizes that this grotesque thing growing from his legs are radish sprouts. From the doctor's office, on his hospital bed, he begins a journey to hell, where he encounters the most bizarre creatures. However, ...more
By far, one of the strangest books I've ever read. Our narrator wakes up one day to find radish sprouts growing on his legs. And so begins a decent into a Dante-like hell, where dreams and mythology and horrors come to life as the narrator is trying to find a cure or someone to talk to about his position. The hallucinations must suggest a pain so terrible, a disease so unnameable. Fortunately for our narrator, his radish sprouts are edible.
Andy Tischaefer
I believe I heard about this book from a friend. Honestly, it just didn't work for me. It wasn't the fact that it was weird (which it was). I've read plenty of books that were weird. I think it was the fact that I never really identified or empathized with the confused lead character, so I never really cared (or understood) what was going on or what it was supposed to mean. If it was metaphor, it lost me. There's some beautiful prose in here, but overall it just wasn't for me.
Mike Wallenstein
A nonsensical book, the only other novelization I've read that is anywhere in the same league would be Kafka's weird Metamorphosis. The Kangaroo Notebook is on my list because of its stream-of-consciousness nature. Everything that happens simply builds off the previous scene, with no clear direction on where it is going or any regard to what has already happened, until it is all just over. It is about a man's journey through a dream-like world that feels inspired by all manner of Japanese folklo ...more
nuoseklus išsibarstymas.

Savižudybę reikia pripažinti kaip Žmogaus teisę.

Keistas sutapimas. Nieko nenutuokiu apie cirką, bet Aidai mano mėgiamiausias gabalas. Kai būnu pernelyg susierzinęs, kai naktį negaliu užmigti, ši muzika mane nuramina. Tokia muzika, kaip sakoma, malšina beprotybę.
By far, the strangest book I have read in a long time (and possibly ever). I will likely look for more by Abe, though. In the midst of a hallucinatory and often bluntly clinical narrative, there are many simple truths about humanity.
Jan 23, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, surreal
It has been a while since I last read one of Abe's novels, but this one felt decidedly stranger than many of them to my recollection. While it wasn't as strong as some of his other works (I'm quite partial to The Face of Another and The Ruined Map), it was still very enjoyable, and makes for a relatively quick read.
Howard Kistler
A wonderfully strange trip through Hell. Like a dark mirror of Wonderland, with Alice replaced by a man with radishes growing in his legs and the White Rabbit understudied by a vampiric nurse.
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Abe Kobo Fan Club: The Kangaroo Notebook 4 6 Feb 24, 2015 06:53AM  
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Kōbō Abe, pseudonym of Kimifusa Abe, was a Japanese writer, playwright, photographer and inventor.

He was the son of a doctor and studied medicine at Tokyo University. He never practised however, giving it up to join a literary group that aimed to apply surrealist techniques to Marxist ideology.

Abe has been often compared to Franz Kafka and Alberto Moravia for his surreal, often nightmarish explor
More about Kōbō Abe...

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“A keener interest in trinkets of self-adornment than in people is a symptom of alienation.” 3 likes
“It would seem that marsupials are poor imitations of full-fledged mammals. Their inadequacy gives them a certain appeal; we’re touched by it.” 3 likes
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