Monday, April 26, 2010

Strangers by Taichi Yamada

When you meet someone for the first time, there's a formality to it, like a polite introduction.This is usually followed by a period of time where you size each other up. Am I going to like this individual, what have we in common, is there enough interest for me to put in the effort? Whether conscious of this or not, we are checking each other out ,but every now & then someone comes along that cuts right through that. Beyond the slight introduction, which you're already laughing at, because you've known each other "for like ever", the bond is instant & concrete, I believe this is the same with books/authors. Some you've been introduced to & the bond's good, a slight formality, but in a short period of time  your friends. Others, no matter the effort, no matter who introduces you - you will never bond.Then there's the one. You pick the book up, turn the page & it's like coming home, you knows this person, you understand "you get them".

Right now I am sat here with an old friend - Caol Ila (single malt whisky), contemplating what to write about a new friend. Strangers by Taichi Yamada. Within a page I was in. Within 5 pages I was accessing the on line library to order any other books of his. A synopsis of the story is middle aged man is divorced & sets up home in his office. One night feeling nostalgic he visits his old district of Asukusa and there meets a likeable old man who looks just like his long dead father. So begins his ordeal.

David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) said "highly recommended, a cerebral haunting ghost story" & Bret Easton Ellis describes this as "an eerie ghost story written with hypnotic clarity, intelligent & haunting with passages of acute psychological insight into the relationship between children & parents".

Strangers is a stunning book. It has moments of sheer beauty with an insidious, underlying fear. This book deals with subjects such as memory, loss & the need for human touch.

4 comments:

mel u said...

I liked this book also-I thing it is in part about the power of the dead over the living-a good ghost story-not a great book but a decent worth reading one-I enjoyed your post a lot

parrish lantern said...

May be its not up among the greats of literature, but as a book to while away some time, to take you outside of your everyday existence. This book made me want to try more of his works & also as a link into more Japanese literature its a fantastic place to start a bit like a glass of something like a Glenmorangie whisky & then moving onto something with more depth,shadow maybe a Lagavulin

Bellezza said...

I like your comparison of an author to a friend; sometimes there's a click, so many times not. It is a rare thing indeed, to find an author we 'get'. I, too, was completely enmeshed in this book from page 1. I'd just finished Inspector Iminishi Investigates, which you may remember I said was one of the best mysteries I've read, and then I picked up Strangers. Whoa...two incredible novels in the same week, although this one had such a different mood.

I found Strangers to be so atmospheric, and sad...I'm so sad that the only comfort he can find is from dead people. I'm so sad that he lost his parents at such an early age (this, because my son lost his father at the age of 7). I'm still thinking about the ending, where he said, "Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Kei." I wonder what he was thanking them for, their visit? Loving him? Both?

parrish lantern said...

Hi Bellezza, possibly for just being - with all its connotations