Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Diving Pool

the poolBy Yoko Ogawaok I Ogawa

In these three tales, the narrators appear isolated from their surroundings. It's as though they view existence through a screen, giving them a sense of dislocation from reality.

As you watch their stories unfold, a sense of disquiet slowly increases, fibre by fibre the web expands drawing everything into it's centre revealing the beauty & the terror at the heart of these tales. Whether it's the teenage girl, cut off by circumstance from her family, she spends her time secretly watching her foster-brother who she's in love with.

Or in the second tale, where the younger sister keeps a diary recording every slight detail of her sister's pregnancy, with an obsession & yet a clarity that truly disturbs.

And then there's the final story- Dormitory, this tale has us heading  into gothic territory. We have a young housewife, finding a place to live for her younger cousin, the place is her old dormitory run by a man with one leg & no arms.

These three tales offer a quiet horror, the cruelty is silent, the terror subtle, haunting us  by the beauty of Yoko Ogawa's writing. She shows us individuals, unaware of a connection to their fellow beings, with no discernable anchor to the society they live in, the cruelty displayed is dislocated from the individuals as if they were voyeurs in their own actions, their own lives.

The territory Yoko Ogawa inhabits is close to that of Haruki Murakami, they share the same stage, but not always the same actors. It is in the way the three stories portray a mirror image of an everyday suburban existence, but the mirror is fragmented, fractured & the image distorts.

The Diving Pool 

Yoko Ogawa

THE TRANSLATER

Stephen Snyder -talks about

9 comments:

stujallen said...

sounds good ,keep meaning to pick up a ogawa to read ,all the best stu

parrish lantern said...

Thanks,this is the 2nd I've read & have enyoyed both.

5 Line said...

I enjoy Japanese literature and this sounds like something I would love.

Great review!

mel u said...

I enjoyed the stories in this collection also-

parrish lantern said...

Hi 5 line, give it a go, you won't regret it, the writings beautiful.
Mel u, Have read your reviews on this book, thought they were fantastic ( in fact inspired my post, got me started on it.)

Bellezza said...

I loved The Housekeeper and The Professor, which I hear is quite different from The Diving Pool and The Hotel Iris which I have waiting for me on my Japanese literature shelf. The later, that is, not this you reviewed. I really want to read this one, though.

parrish lantern said...

The reason I read this book was because I enjoyed The housekeeper & the professor, although this is completely different & yet the same (a bit like H.Murakami).This was darker,(plain choc as opposed to milk?) I am looking forward to reading Hotel Iris. After that I can't find anymore translations, have you heard of any?

Ilona said...

I read this last year, and all the stories were haunting, and, as you said, dislocated.

What I like about Ogawa is the cruelty injected into "normal" suburbia. It's realistic and she taps so well into the human psyche. The story with the teenage girl in love with her foster brother: my favourite bit was when she would hurt the toddler. Ogawa sweeps you up in the feelings, until, I, too, was agreeing with the girl's actions. Not that I'd ever do it in real life - but Ogawa made me understand the motivations.

All three stories were brilliant, and I only wish they were longer.

parrish lantern said...

I agree with you about their brilliance, but I think it's their brevity that makes them so good, it heightens the tension by being compressed.