I got this through Interlibrary Loan because I've read that two of my favorite anime----Ninja Scroll and Basilisk----are both influenced by this book.I got this through Interlibrary Loan because I've read that two of my favorite anime----Ninja Scroll and Basilisk----are both influenced by this book. I went in expecting a Romeo & Juliet style conflict with a lot of courtly intrique and politics. While it certainly has all of that, this book is a lot more Ninja-riffic than I expected. While I wouldn't say each every idea of the anime comes from the book, a lot of it does, including the crazy ninja magic. Considering this was written back in the 1940's, it seems to have been a big influence on the kind of stories we think of today as Ninja stories. Very readable, very fun if somewhat gruesome. I'm curious to see if any of his other works have been translated into English. ...more
Not my usual fare. I read this one for work when we received a fairly strong complaint against it being in our library's collection. I went in expectiNot my usual fare. I read this one for work when we received a fairly strong complaint against it being in our library's collection. I went in expecting a lot of dirty words and some graphic sexual content and it certainly had both of those, but nothing that particularly shocked me...but then I have a pretty high tolerance.
The basic story centers around Parade, a woman in her early 20's living in the "urban" streets of Hyattsville, MD (I'll explain the quotes later). She is a dark-skinned black woman who grew up being told by her mother and good friend Sky that she was ugly. Because of this, her confidence is pretty low. She can't keep a job and her relationships with men are left to hidden affairs. What follows is kind of an examination of life in this world and the way Parade ultimately finds confidence and a way to live her own life. One of the main plots centers around Parade's very pretty friend Sky, who gets into an argument with a woman at a party and ends up killing her. This murder leads to some interesting plot twists when the murdered woman turns out to be the wife of a successful drug dealer in nearby Washington, D.C.
The setting fits more directly into the themes of Urban Lit more than it does into reality. I live in Baltimore and have been to Hyattsville many times...it's nowhere near as bad as it's described. I almost laughed at one point seeing part of the story occur in nearby Arundel Mills Mall; although it's never really described this is a fairly popular high-end shopping center in the area that's largely populated by high school kids after about 4 in the afternoon. I've been to movies there many times and I've never ever seen the nightclub atmosphere Styles describes in the book.
The ideas within the book are pretty strong, I just wish a more capable writer attacked this subject matter. Even being written in "urban" dialect her ear for dialogue and turns of phrase is pretty weak. The characters are all pretty transparent and I don't think it would have taken a lot to flesh them out just a little bit more. A large theme of the work seems to be realizing that the choices you make and the lifestyle you lead have a direct impact on what happens to you, but I think this could have been explored much more deeply than it was. I'd love to see a stronger writer tackle these ideas...I think they have a lot of merit. This is one of the main complaints I have with the whole genre---great ideas, great that it gives voice to concerns not otherwise heard, but unfortunate that better writers are dealing with the topics.