Bridget Weller's Reviews > Tokyo Year Zero

Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace
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Dec 04, 13

Read in February, 2010

A very long time ago, someone close to people I cared about got murdered. For weeks, every lurid headline made me shudder, hoping they hadn't seen it. I swore off crime fiction for years afterwards, no longer having any tolerance for the death of someone's loved one being reduced to a plot device. And for exactly that reason, there's a lot of crime fiction I still really can't bear.

What I admire most about David Peace his ability to make real grief and hurt and loss. Yes, there are murders, but in a David Peace book they matter. And the fact that they matter, that they are tragedies, means that reading Peace ain't no picnic. He is a master of his powers, its his skill that lets the reader understand tragedy. Characteristic stylistic techniques such as intruding internal voices, section introductions using different font, layout and voice in almost stream of conciousness flashes, and stark, short-sentence prose all work so effectively that there are bits that are hard to read, because you know that you probably should look away. And, perhaps because Peace draws from history to write his fiction (in this case a real case in immediate post-WWII Tokyo), redemption is hard to find. It you read crime for the satisfaction of justice and order being restored at the end, then this is not the book for you.

If there is redemption here, it is in a book rendered powerfully enough to make the reader see things they would rather ignore, the things that will continue for as long as we continue to look away.

I would rank it as good as GB84, better than The Damned United. The rest of the Japan trilogy is now on my list. (Might recharge the psychic batteries with something a bit fluffier first, though.)




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