Zoe's Reviews > The Summer of the Ubume

The Summer of the Ubume by Natsuhiko Kyogoku
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's review
Jan 15, 11

did not like it
bookshelves: horror, japanese-authors, print-books, will-not-finish
Read from January 09 to 15, 2011

Read the first 98 pages, and will not finish the other third. My review covers only the first 100 pages.

Set in an indeterminate time a few years after WWII, The Summer of the Ubume starts with a tabloid writer visiting his friend to talk about a woman who has been pregnant for 20 months. Which sounds really interesting, until the journalist's used book dealer/part-time Shinto priest friend spends FORTY-FIVE PAGES talking about everything else but the actual point of the book. This was a philosphy lecture with a dull professor. It was slow, painful, and often left me wondering if there was a point. And at the end of the massive three hour conversation, there was a point, getting back to the pregnant woman. But before the "great" Kyogokudo could just sum up his problem, he has to orate for a long, long time.

Picture a Japanese Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Only this version of Watson is prone to say something stupid and keep the conversation wandering indefinitely in straw man arguments. So seventy-five of the hundred pages I read were Kyogokudo intellectualy bitch-slapping his "friend" before finally reaching a point and allowing us to escape to the next scene...where another friend insults the main character and makes him look stupid too. Which isn't hard because the main character seems incapable of rational or logical thought. He's like the village idiot who wandered away from his designated village.

Once I got up to the "point" of the second exchange, which was that a close friend could somehow "see" the "material memories" that spill out of peoples' bodies, I closed the book and put it down. The payoff just wasn't worth the pain of reading more of this dreary dialogue.

I'm all for a slow introduction, but this book's constant use of circular arguments to pad length finally broke my patience. I'm not even sure if the Ubume referenced in the first fifty pages is a real ghost or not, but I'm not about to sit through 220 more pages of Kyogokudo saying "No, you said something stupid, Seki! Let me explain again another way." No, Kyogokudo, you can explain to an empty room and lower your energy bills with your hot air.

I give this book one star, and would recommend it to masochists interested in slow torture.
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message 1: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Wainwright Didn't like it then?
Well it's put me off!!

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