telophase: (L - ill)
I had a doctor's appointment today, and ducked into Barnes & Noble to check if they had the latest volume of Samurai Deeper Kyo to read in the waiting room. They didn't, but they had something I hadn't heard of: Faust: Fiction and Manga from the Cutting Edge of Japanese Pop Culture volume 1. This is an anthology of short stories (and probably at least one novella: there's some very long stories in here), essays, and manga originally published in a Japanese literary journal titled, what else, Faust.

It leads off with an excerpt from an xxxHolic light novel (forthcoming from Del Rey on October 28) by NISIOISIN, author of the Death Note light novel, which forms a self-contained short story. It falls kind of flat, but that's only partly the story itself and, I think, partly the translation (or rewriter - see comments).[1] I still pre-ordered the novel just now, because I am currently fangirling xxxHolic, and I hope the prose has gained some sparkle between the version published here and the version that will be published in the novel.

Unfortunately, that was the only story I even halfway liked. The rest were, to me dull, dull, dull, and the one I hated most was the one that the Publishers Weekly review on Amazon singles out for praise:
The highlight of the book is Otaro Maijo's Drill Hole in My Brain, a piece of pop culture–filled, avant-garde pornography written in the style of William S. Burroughs or Mark Leyner. A boy with a screwdriver stuck in his brain narrates a brilliant psychedelic stream-of-consciousness sexual fantasy that takes place inside his head.
Where they see brilliance, I see pretentious twaddle. But then again, I am a Philistine who fails to appreciate most contemporary literature and writing, quite a lot of which quite a lot of you like, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

The manga collected in the back is all very short, and very beautiful, and none of it particularly affected me in anything other than a "Hey, nice artwork!" kind of way.

Summation: if your reading tastes tend to go along with mine, and you prefer short stories with more character, plot, (and HUMOR, which is SORELY LACKING HERE), you might want to give it a miss. If you're always recommending books to me and are disappointed when I bounce hard off them within the first few pages, hey: you might like it.




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[1] Especially the division into paragraphs, unless they're sticking tightly to original Japanese paragraphs; I have no knowledge of the details of Japanese prose. At any rate, there are many, many short one-sentence paragraphs, which tend to give false emphasis to the sentences involved, which makes the narrator sound like an emo teengirl exercising her Portentious Voice. Okay, so the two narrators involved are an emo twentysomething girl and an emo teenboy, but GAH I outgrew that headspace years ago and don't need to return to it! Example: )

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