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Acts of Worship: Seven Stories

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  605 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews

When Mishima committed ritual suicide in November 1970, he was only forty-five. He had written over thirty novels, eighteen plays, and twenty volumes of short stories. During his lifetime, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize three times and had seen almost all of his major novels appear in English. While the flamboyance of his life and the apparent fanaticism of his death
Paperback, 205 pages
Published February 1st 1995 by Kodansha (first published 1965)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,148)
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Sep 11, 2012 R rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first found Mishima, I wondered why I'd never heard of him before. I quickly fell in love with his style of writing tight, consistent, entertaining, and vexing novels. "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion" is one of my all time favorite novels, and with reading it I found Mishima to be my favorite author.

But I had never read a short story (or play) from him until I found this collection.

Now I feel even more strongly about Mishima, and even more solidly convinced that his detractors have no
Dec 12, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-red-circle
"Fountains in the rain" – boy's joy in the dumping of first girlfriend. Girl manages to ruin it.

"Raisin Bread" – Yukio Mishima meets Haruki Murakami! I didn’t quite understand if they were foreigners, or cool-cat, jazz-loving J-boys who'd adopted funky names.

"Sword" – Sexy young man takes his kendo very seriously. As all young men should. Other members of the team want to be him, destroy him, shag him, or a little bit of all three. Mishima by numbers.

"Sea and Sunset" – Weird.

"Cigarette" – Public
1. "Fountains In the Rain." An arrogant youth dumps his girlfriend; when she won’t stop crying, he takes her to fountains in the rain, hoping her tears will find their match in them. Instead, he himself becomes fascinated with the sight of the cascading waters. Good descriptions, and a humorous account of youth coming to terms with its own unimportance.

2. "Raisin Bread." Jack, an alienated young man, “made of some clear crystalline substance, had as his sole aim to become quite invisible.” A fai
Writing a review for this collection of stories is an intimidating prospect. Prose as exquisite as this seems like it deserves a more lucid write-up than I feel capable of giving. The usual spewing of adjectives: "thought-provoking", "delicate", "sublime", "tragic", "illuminating", and other words, while apt, fail to fully encompass the experience of reading Mishima and the wonderment one feels at his mastery of capturing subtle emotion and psychology through language.

This collection contains s
Feb 02, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is clearly a work done in Mishima's early years, when he was more obsessed with the idea of vague supermen devoid of feelings of compassion, and fixated on the typical male adolescent fantasies of an existential rage like heroes from Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. So, you know, that gets irritating. The vicious lack of empathy with no reward gets frustrating because many of these stories don't have a real antagonism - the hero is unfeeling and capable, and does what he wants, because nothing get ...more
May 31, 2008 Tosh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure where the subtitle came from ("Japanese for Busy People") but it's wrong! But to the subject of Yukio Mishima's short stories, they're really good. I have been told that in Japanese Mishima is a great stylist - his sentence structures are superb and he's greatly admired for the literal shading and brightness of his prose work. I am hoping that more of his work will get translated into English.

But meanwhile we have this (and another short story collection) and a lot of his novels in
One thing that struck me while reading this book is Mishima's unique ability to use words to sketch vivid images that will continue to stay etched in your memory long after you’ve finished the story. The seven stories in this collection spans a large part of Mishima's career as a writer. It was first published in 1965. The title, Acts of Worship, suggests that there is a kind of leitmotif to these stories – and it sure makes it more interesting to view this collection as a whole that way. The fi ...more
Alor Deng
Mar 28, 2015 Alor Deng rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
What is there to say about Mishima that I haven't already stated? The man was the apotheosis of genius. A prose writer who wrote with the observational skills of a poet. The mundane to him is given a poetic lift and under the magnifying glass that was his pen, everything he describes turns beautiful. I shudder to think that there might be a better writer that I'll encounter in the future. Yukio Mishima (I say this with all the conviction of my heart) is the greatest writer to have lived. He has ...more
Ismael Galvan
I think Yukio Mishima is one the greatest modern writers. His works are refined and brutal as a Japanese sword. Unfortunately, after several years, I can finally say, "This Mishima book wasn't good." Out of the seven stories only three are worth a read, and even then just barely. My rating would be lower if I were to rate this book in its entirety, and not just the three worthwhile stories.

If you want some solid Mishima stories read Death in Midsummer and Other Stories. This book doesn't tarnish
Mar 05, 2015 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a group of Mishima's stories, written between 1946 and 1965, and collected in 1989. He primarily wrote novels, but these stories demonstrate that he could write great short pieces too. I once loved his writing, but I now find a lot of it disturbing. Perhaps this is due to me finding his life and death disturbing - his intense narcissism, his political extremism, and his closeted bi or homosexuality. In his writing he seemed to be after some sort of purity and beauty, but he associated th ...more
Joseph M
Jul 22, 2011 Joseph M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mishima is like a Japanese Rimbaud or a homosexual Hemingway - a writer who endows us with the essences of his subjects and paints the wounds of a Romantic's heart through delicate, yet elaborate, verse. Profound in his sensualism, thought-provoking in his eroticism, he deserves to be taught in every World Literature class in America.
Plume Express
#En 3 points
*Mishima-style : lorsqu'on parle de littérature japonaise, Yukio Mishima revient constamment, tant pour son destin tragique que pour ses œuvres au style inimitable - avec ce recueil de nouvelles, il confirme sa réputation, véritable virtuose des descriptions qui, quoique poétiques, ne sont jamais monotones et rendent le récit plus tangible et vivant que jamais
*Des portraits séduisants de sombres personnalités : faibles, tyranniques, atypiques, durs, indifférents, rêveurs, passionnés,
Jun 10, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mishima began my love of Japanese literature, especially short stories. Japanese literature has a refreshing vein of naturalism and mysticism, and Mishima's stories are prime examples. I used some of his stories to teach themes to tenth graders (especially the rain one, with the rain outside, the water in the fountain, the tears on the girl's face, etc). He's a brilliant short story writer. I also enjoyed his other collection, Death in Midsummer.
Jun 08, 2016 Em rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
A mixed bag of stories from the otherwise excellent Mishima; the eponymous "Act of Worship," though novella length, is a sympathetic tale which towers above the others, while "Sea and Sunset" holds its own, short and sweet. These two just are enough to prop up a rough collection which begins with two weak entries (these being "Raisin Bread" and "Fountains in the Rain") and whose other entries are more hit and miss, though they do have their moments of brilliance.
Aug 12, 2014 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: asia
Really, the only reason to read this book is for the last, eponymous, story, Act of Worship, which is really quite good - well-developed, engaging and moving.

Sea and Sunset is pretty good as well.

The rest of the stories struck me as something written by a precocious high school student or undergraduate. Too concerned with making a philosophical point and not enough with telling a story or conveying something interesting. Sword and Raisin Bread are particularly turgid.

May 17, 2016 Alyssa rated it liked it
A beautiful collection of stories. I didn't find myself absorbed by any of them, but each contains characters with great psychological complexity as well as beautiful scene descriptions, making them worth the read.
My copy notes that here are a lot of the themes and symbols that characterize Mishima's longer works, if that matters to you.
Dec 23, 2010 Ilya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite story is "Sea and Sunset". A French boy leads the Children's Crusade; with the other crusaders he reaches Marseilles, where a ship captain promises to take them to the Holy Land but instead sells them at a slave market in Alexandria. He is bought by a Persian merchant and resold in India, where a Japanese Zen master frees him. Out of loyalty to the Zen master he goes to Japan with him and remains there as a Buddhist temple worker for the rest of his life. My old Internet forum friend ...more
Sep 21, 2014 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird. Very weird. But a good weird.

That being said, my mother warned me about the misogynistic undertones (and overtones), and I didn't believe her. She was correct.
Abimelech Abimelech
I like to read this bit by bit whilst killing time at the library. For some reason it goes down real well whilst waiting around for something or another. Today I read 'Cigarette,' for instance. It was damned good. I ought to elucidate on the crammed rooms, the pair of youths amidst forestry, smoking in the 1st grade, looking to a counterpart through smoke-teary eyes, introspective grandmother with wild memory whom ends up offering tea and cakes instead, father's once sweet-smelling cigar gone so ...more
Mar 23, 2014 umberto rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story, japan
From this seven-story paperback, I found its overall reading a bit disappointing as compared to his long novels I admired like ‘Spring Snow’, ‘Runaway Horses’, ‘The Sound of Waves’, etc. So I think these relatively short stories might be read and enjoyed as one’s introductory phase toward his longer works since they can encourage him/her to feel familiar with his writing style, ways of looking at things/people, unexpected climax, etc. From various numbers of pages, those newcomers should take he ...more
George Ilsley
I'll never re-read the Sea of Fertility series, but these stories I have read and re-read.
This is a book to read slowly it needs time to seetle and be digested. Mishima wrigths about everyday episodes, transforming the vulgar and boring into deep. I fund myself struggling to finish some stories and struggling not to finish others. All of the tales dable into the usual mishima themes.

its definitly a book to read more that once. I garantee you'll find something new everytime you read it.

its hard to pick my favourite tales but I thing the following ones were those that impresed me the m
Sep 19, 2014 e rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
very very good intro to mishima

very much looking forward to his tetralogy
Jun 29, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good and memorable short stories.
Nov 24, 2015 Louis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Mishima a cigarette is never just a cigarette.
Jul 22, 2009 Lindsay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was left behind by a friend visiting from Japan. I found some of the stories interesting, some of them boring, all of them eclipsed by the strange life of the author. I found myself more interested in Mishima's story and his psychological reasons for writing these stories than by the works themselves.

But, you know, rad cover. Bleeding rose!
Aug 13, 2013 Toreisii rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Mishima employs particular sensitivity in rendering natural backgrounds and touches subtly on the psychology behind his characters. However, his touch is at times illegible and his symbolism gradates from the brilliant to the surreal, making for an uneven set of short stories, some of which I thoroughly enjoyed and others which I yawned through.
Charles Loelius
I've only read fountains in the rain so far, but that wasn't bad at all.

Update: Only fountains really stuck with me, but that was a fairly powerful story, worth the read. Definitely didn't see hyper nationalist Mishima in that though, but who knows.
Jun 21, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-fiction
This anthology is essentially “Mishimi 101”, containing stories written over the course of his career. If you’ve only read one or two of Mishima’s works, this is a great way to delve in and get a sampling of themes present in his various works.
Aug 07, 2009 Glenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
While not every story was great, there were a few stellar ones in here, particularly Raisin Bread. Mishima's normal themes of repressed homosexuality, violence and discipline all crop up. A good introduction into an important author.
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Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡 公威) who was a Japanese author, poet and playwright, famous for both his highly notable post-war writings and the circumstances of his ritual suicide by seppuku.

Mishima wrote 40 novels, 18 plays, 20 books of short stories, and at least 20 books of essays, one libretto, as well as one film. A large portion of this oeuvre comprises books
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“Someone, somewhere, had tied up the darkness, he thought as he went: the bag of darkness had been tied at the mouth, enclosing within it a host of smaller bags. The stars were tiny, almost imperceptible perforations; otherwise, there wasn't a single hole through which light could pass.
The darkness in which he walked immersed was gradually pervading him. His own footfall was utterly remote, his presence barely rippled the air. His being had been compressed to the utmost - to the point where it had no need to forge a path for itself through the night, but could weave its way through the gaps between the particles of which the darkness was composed.”
“Held in the custody of childhood is a locked chest; the adolescent, by one means or another, tries to open it. The chest is opened: inside, there is nothing. So he reaches a conclusion: the treasure chest is always like this, empty. From this point on, he gives priority to this assumption of his rather than to his reality. In other words, he is now a “grown-up.” Yet was the chest really empty? Wasn’t there something vital, something invisible to the eye, that got away at the very moment it was opened?” 7 likes
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