Kangaroo Notebook
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Kangaroo Notebook

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  572 ratings  ·  52 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Kangaroo Notebook, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Kangaroo Notebook

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,216)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
R.
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
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 munc
...more
Darryl
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
Benjamin
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
Amy
This book is so random and it makes me lol so much- totally 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? lOL

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 trip to the under...more
Julie Buffaloe-Yoder
Oct 26, 2008 Julie Buffaloe-Yoder rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Matt
Kafka wishes he was this good. There, I said it.
Caroline
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...more
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...more
Viktorija
"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
Kelly
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...more
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...more
Trin
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
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
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
Kristina
I picked this book up looking for a little surrealism. I was quickly drawn in after a few pages, maybe because the style of narrative was so different that what I had been used to.. maybe because the idea of radishes sprouting on one's legs was so crazy, but my interest faded fast as his subsequent journey through hell just got more and more strange. The whole novel I was searching for meaning and trying to understand what the author was trying to convey, but reading the final page only left me...more
Masha Vishnevsky
I love randomness, by all means, i AM randomness, but this book was a bit disapointing. However, there were some great ideas here that fascinated, such as the squids scene (gotta read it to know what im talking about). There are parts that I enjoyed very much, but as a whole I think Abe was trying too hard. YOu know how sometimes things can be so absurd, so ridiculous, so ludacris, we think "how is this happening? how does this make sense?" Yeah, he failed, in my opinion.
Monica
Kangaroo Notebook is a strange, trippy short book about a man who in a dream-like state wakes up with radish sprouts growing on his legs. I enjoyed the beginning of the book, but then it quickly became a pain to keep reading. It was just boring and long-winded and made no sense sometimes. While I appreciated the way Abe writes, this book wasn't my cup of tea.
Adam
I think this was supposed to be a demonstration of Absurdist philosophy. So if you're into that, you might like this book.

Otherwise, the book reads like listening to the crazy dream that someone had last night. You know the type - where nothing of substance happens, and it's just a series of random, semi-maniacal, unconnected events that's of no interest to anyone except the dreamer. Yeah, so that for 200 pages.
Darren C
something from a page i bookmarked:

"Suddenly I wanted to drop by the Worldly Desires shop. That seemed, more than anywhere else, to be the sane world. It was the land of childhood, where humans and objects intermingled. It was a fetishistic world, where the boundary between spirit and matter dissolved. Even the persistent female squid could not penetrate that territory."
Brent Legault
I love Kobo Abe, but I found this book to be a bit too "zany." I put zany in quotes to highlight the fact that the zaniness, I felt, was forced. A forced zaniness is not zany at all. It's just a little sad. But even so, it's classic Abe: paranoid, cracked, and on the run from something. Abe is great at writing a character who everyone is against.
thegift
starts weird. gets weirder. like murakami haruki? well if it is chronicle of weirdness, surrealistic absurdity, paranoia about hospitals, doctors, nurses, eventually fellow patients... just do not look for romance, for human connection, for sentimental world preceding this one, you might like this one. my favorite Abe remains Woman in the Dunes...
David Alex
"According to Fleetfin's research, if you sun-dry the sexual organs of a male and female squid and bring them into contact at the rate of three hundred fifty feet per fifteen seconds or less (the average running speed of a third-year junior high school student), you'll create an explosion surpassing dynamite."

-Kobo Abe, Kangaroo Notebook.
Hamish
Contains imagery both repulsive and horrific, perhaps the most disturbing imagery I've ever read, yet a great book, all the same. I read this while studying at uni and quickly went on to devour three more Kobo Abe books, thereafter: The Woman in the Dunes, The Face of Another and The Ruined Map (the first two equally as good as Kangaroo Notebook).
Cody
surprisingly creeeeeeepy! man has radish sprouts growing in his legs, like lil botflies or something, except he can pluck them and eat them. lots of catheters, plant men, and squid sex organs. don't cry abe, you are in a better place right now, death is probably not like the life of this radish man...
Abby
Thanks for the read, Michael. I enjoy random surrealism, and it was a fun read. I have a nagging feeling that I was supposed to spend more time pondering symbolism and themes, but my skills are oh-so-rusty. I'm looking forward to being enlightened later.

Japanese authors really have it going on.
Xarah
Well, that was just weird. While I didn't get what was going on, more often then not, I did find that Abe's writing style lent a fluidity to the story even though the meaning totally was lost on me. Might be a cultural difference. Anyhow, it was still a fun and bizarre read!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 41 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Cat, a Man, and Two Women
  • On Parole
  • Hell
  • Ten Nights' Dreams
  • The Paper Door and Other Stories by Shiga Naoya
  • All She Was Worth
  • Kappa
  • Strangers
  • Acts of Worship: Seven Stories
  • The Silent Cry
  • The Inugami Clan
  • Naoko
  • The Lake
  • The Wild Geese
  • Rivalry: A Geisha's Tale
  • Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy
  • Monkey Brain Sushi: New Tastes in Japanese Fiction
6526
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
More about Kōbō Abe...
The Woman in the Dunes The Box Man The Face of Another The Ruined Map Secret Rendezvous

Share This Book

“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
“A keener interest in trinkets of self-adornment than in people is a symptom of alienation.” 2 likes
More quotes…