Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Posted January 14, 2013on:
Incisive reviews of some sharp writing
Originally posted on Follow the Thread:
Ryu Murakami, Piercing (1994/2007)
Natsuo Kirino, Out (1997/2004)
Kawashima Masayuki, the protagonist of Ryu Murakami’s Piercing (translated by Ralph McCarthy), stands over his baby daughter’s crib with an ice pick, testing his resolve not to use it. The full darkness beneath Kawashima’s outwardly happy family life is soon revealed, as we learn that he once stabbed a woman with an ice pick, and he’s afraid he’ll do so again to the baby. He convinces himself that the only way to deal with these feelings is to stab a stranger instead. So he checks into a hotel, calls for a prostitute, and waits.
The young woman who arrives is Sanada Chiaki, who has had her own demons to face in life, and is perhaps more than anything just looking to feel once again. What follows, in a chapter taking up fully half of this short novel, is a tense and fascinating game of power-plays. Our perspective shifts back and forth between Kawashima and Chiaki, as does the upper hand in a battle they don’t (at first) even know they are fighting. Both characters have their strengths and weaknesses, their resources and defences, and one can never be sure how this game will end. Piercing is deeply uncomfortable reading, certainly; but, as a portrait of two deeply damaged individuals, it’s also compelling.
Posted October 14, 2012on:
Adam Foulds is a terrific writer. I read an article by him on how to write description and it was so brilliant that I immediately bought this novel.
I’m not going to share the article with you because if you read it you will instantly be able to write brilliant descriptions in your novels and that would give me too much competition while my own career is floundering.
Oh, all right, then. You’ve twisted my arm. You’re right. Novel writing shouldn’t be competitive. We should all help each other to be brilliant.
This article shows that Adam Foulds is very good at appreciating other novelists. But how good is he at writing a novel himself?
I have some reservations about that. The descriptive passages in The Quickening Maze are vivid and beautiful. The story unfolds in a series of intense vignettes.
It’s a poignant story, deeply imagined, and rendered in accurate detail.
But I sensed a lot of fear in the way it was written. The author, rather like the character who had to be tied down and given an enema, was afraid to evacuate.
Ironically, this section, when Mr Francombe was given a clyster and “wept with disappointment as an astonishing quantity of shit bloomed from him across the table,” was one of the most fluent, engaging and sustained pieces of narrative in the whole novel. I forgot for a moment that I was reading the work of a poet.
The theme of clenching occurs later. The doctor himself, Matthew Allen, is guilty of it.
“When Matthew Allen had the idea he stood up out of his chair. … His body clenched with excitement, as though gripping the thought inside him so as not to lose it.”
I think the author is also clenching. Come on, Adam! Loosen up! Don’t be afraid of showing us your shit. This approach might improve the erotic passages which, though not bad, are terribly restrained and far from arousing.