[NOVEL] GROTESQUE – NATSUO KIRINO

Summary: [Grotesque portraits] the malice and deceit that surround the female students of an elite all girls high school. ‘Here we have class based society in all its repugnant glory.’ [It tells the story of] the diabolically beautiful and nymphomaniac Yuriko and the isolated and aggressively competitive ‘outsider’ Kazue. Yuriko’s sister ‘Watashi’ (meaning ‘I’ – unnamed first narrator) feels deep resentment for the two, and tries her best to ruin them both. A monumental work of Kirino, which with overpowering literary style portraits the life of modern women (Øyvor Nybor’s translation of Grotesque’s summary Japanese version).

A woman who does not know herself has no choice other than to live with other people’s evaluations. But no one can adapt perfectly to public opinion. And herein lies the source of their destruction.

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I struggled a bit to find a nice summary in English that could sum up Grotesque; mostly because the English version has the tag “crime fiction,” and its summary makes the novel look like a thriller.

“Tokyo prostitutes Yuriko and Kazue have been brutally murdered, their deaths leaving a wake of unanswered questions about who they were, who their murderer is, and how their lives came to this end” (Grotesque’s summary English version).

There is really no detective game in this novel. Grotesque is about complex human relationships, especially women, in modern Japanese society. The author with her profound work has explored so many problems – feminism, prostitution, family and social hierarchy etc, so intricately weaved together to create a society that leaves our characters no way out. Instead of touching base on those problems, I will just talk about my impressions with Grotesque, and what sucked me in from the very first page. Read More »

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[LIGHT NOVEL SERIES] BUNGAKU SHOUJO – NOMURA MIZUKI

Summary: Bungaku Shoujo series centers around Konoha Inoue, one of two members of his high school’s literature club, which he joined shortly after entering school, though the story begins when Konoha is already in his second year. The other member and president of the club is Tohko Amano, a third-year girl who loves literature. Tohko eats stories by consuming the paper they are printed on, and Tohko often asks Konoha to write her short stories as “snacks”.

“Why are you eating the parts that I balled up and threw away?”

Hinosaka.Nano.full.1238261This series of light novels got so popular that they have manga and anime adaptation, and art book. But the very first time I read them, I thought they were a little too much. The language was a little exaggerated, and the characters were unreal. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t expect everything to be real. In fact, I love unreal. I love mangas and books with mind games, strategy games, fighting scenes, exaggerated love story, etc. However, I wouldn’t expect such dramatic adventures from a series that starts with a two-member high school literature club. What makes Bungaku Shoujo worth reading, rather than real, is the ability to create to characters that any reader can resonate with.Read More »

[NOVEL] THE FRIENDS – KAZUMI YUMOTO

Summary: Curious about death, three sixth-grade boys decide to spy on an old man waiting for him to die, but they end up becoming his friends.

“…we human beings progress because we have the desire to know.”

Personal note: I read the book in Vietnamese, and I couldn’t find the 566c099b04567fe482233a1fdeab129e-w204@1xEnglish version online. So at first I thought I would quote some famous reviews below. But The friends‘ quotes are sooooo good, I will translate them from the Vietnamese version. Thus, the quotes below are not exact the same with the original English version. 

A beautiful friendship

When I first read the book, I thought it’s about the strong bond between Kiyama, Yamashita and Wakabe. There’s gonna be adventures, and fights, and lessons about friendship for those three. In short, a story for kids. However, my first impression was wrong.

Downright wrong.Read More »

[NOVEL] TOKYO FIANCÉE – AMÉLIE NOTHOMB

Summary: Amélie is a young language teacher living in Tokyo. When she succumbs to the attentions of her one and only student – the shy, wealthy, *may I also add “handsome”* and oh-so-Japanese Rinri – the lovers-to-be find themselves swept along by an affair that is as unusual as it is tender.

Why must pleasure always have a price? And why must one always pay for sensual delight with the loss of original lightness?

Just a personal note that this book is my favorite. Don’t know why I wait until now to write this. Also the book just has its movie adaption! Yayyy !! But I haven’t been able to watch it *cry*

Read More »

Art Therapy

My 1st Art Therapy class

“Loneliness is dangerous. It’s addicting. Once you see how peaceful it is, you don’t wanna deal with people.”

My friends told me I got a Gothic style of drawing. 

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Color Holocaust – My 2nd favorite

Last Saturday, I took this workshop called Art Therapy. After we listed out our personal problems, the instructor told us to ‘simply play with colors’. So I started to play with the colors, without any idea how the drawings would turn out like these. I was expecting to see some bright colors on a pastel background. But in the end, they all looked so Gothic, involuntarily.

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Heart vs Brain – My 1st favorite

The instructor said “It’s not about creating the best drawing. But learning to love your own drawings is important”.

And so, I realize it’s not gothic or dark; it’s just disorganized, irrelevant and turbulent. Exactly like my mind. I felt like it was not my hand that drew these. It was my subconscious mind. Maybe it was not so bad after all.