Certain of these stories I'd give 5 stars, but most of them, 3 or 4. "Afternoon at the Bakery" is a terrific quietly haunting story but none of the ot...moreCertain of these stories I'd give 5 stars, but most of them, 3 or 4. "Afternoon at the Bakery" is a terrific quietly haunting story but none of the other stories seemed to carry the same quiet intensity. "Old Mrs J" I had loved--it's wonderfully strange and memorable--when I read it in The New Yorker or Harper's (I was sure it was NYer, but the books says it came out in Hrpr's) but it's been edited since, it's shorter and to my mind, less wonderful. I like how the stories interweave; kiwis in one story, tomatoes on the road in another, show up in several of the stories, as do glimpses of character and motif. It can add to the haunting quality but other times it also feels fey, like she's trying too hard. Certainly a writer I want to read more of. Ogawa has a delicate and assured style, writing stories "that float free of any specific culture, anchoring themselves instead in the landscape of the mind," as the Washington Post Book World has written.(less)
Not as multi-textured as her later stories, but still...damn impressive. And not a happy ending among them ;-) Lovers who are misaligned, married coupl...moreNot as multi-textured as her later stories, but still...damn impressive. And not a happy ending among them ;-) Lovers who are misaligned, married couples uneven in their love for one another, mother-daughter pairs where the daughter dotes, the mother competes... There is humor here too, but not as much as in the later works. If there is a fault it is that you can often tell to what ending the story is headed, which is not so much true of her later work. Still, the journey there is not to be missed. And her settings, as always--whether city streets, a beach on holiday, or a marital home--are memorable. At least two stories deserve mention: "The Happy Valley," an eerie haunting story that blends dream, premonition and reality, as a young woman dreams and then finds the valley and house she will live in as a married woman, while also being alerted by a child not to step on a grave--her own, one presumes, as we see the house will be inhabited by her husband without her. In "And His Letter Grew Colder," we see one side of a correspondence and romance, a feminist tale in which we see how much of a cad a man can be once his sought-for love is attained.(less)
Not the same collection as the one I just finished (published by Doubleday in 1966). The only overlap is the title story. Excellent intro. by Patrick...moreNot the same collection as the one I just finished (published by Doubleday in 1966). The only overlap is the title story. Excellent intro. by Patrick McGrath.(less)
Du Maurier is a master story teller. Whether it's the tale of a married couple on holiday in Venice in order to heal after the loss of their child, an...moreDu Maurier is a master story teller. Whether it's the tale of a married couple on holiday in Venice in order to heal after the loss of their child, and their encounter with a blind sister who sees that child with them; or the tale of an artist on holiday in Greece to paint, inhabiting the cottage where an archaeologist last stayed and drowned, and his encounter with a strange American couple; or a woman whose father dies with an expression of anguish and astonishment on his face and her quest to find his former friend (and the dark surprise that unearths); or the comic tale of a group of parishioners in Jerusalem on tour with the vicar (a replacement for their usual more competent one) and the series of mishaps that enfolds, the encounters with truth and shame nearly all undergo (but the 9-year-old truth-telling grandson), Du Maurier never fails to amuse and above all enchant us.
Note: GR gives the same ISBN to this edition as it does to the collection published by NYRB. They are different collections; the only story that's the same between the two is the title story.(less)
One of the best short story collections I've read in recent years. It's a shame that Taeko Kono isn't better known and though she appears to have auth...moreOne of the best short story collections I've read in recent years. It's a shame that Taeko Kono isn't better known and though she appears to have authored several books, this seems to be the only one translated into English.
The stories were written in the 60's but do not feel in any way dated. Each story creates a world as rich as any novel...The lives of women are explored, their relationships, the violence of their longing, the way pain and pleasure mix. Setting: a seaside town, an urban neighborhood, is equally important, evocative. One thing I like about the stories is that they do not follow a typical trajectory, though they build in tension to a sort of climax, often the ending is but a suggestion, an image, another moment in a richly textured and confusing life, a hardening or burnishing perhaps of all that's been building...much is suggested, nothing is spelled out. There is a bravery and boldness in the way that Kono depicts the complexity of women's lives and desires, no judgment passed on their wish to be whipped during sex, for example, or another's fascination with young boys, hatred for girls; another for the meat closest to the bone or shell: "All those varied bone and shell dishes began to give her the feeling that a sense of taste had been awakened throughout her body; that all her senses had become so concentrated in her sense of taste that it was difficult for her to move." (263).
Really I am surprised this author isn't better known. She should be. Kenzaburo Oe writes: "At once the most carnally direct and the most lucidly intelligent woman writing in Japan." I believe him.(less)