Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: "Piercing" by Ryu Murakami

The other famous writer with Murakami surname, Ryu, is a very different writer than the more famous Haruki. His books are much more vicious and have quite a harder edge when it comes to sexual and psychological aspects of storytelling, as evidenced by his slim debut novel Almost Transparent Blue, and this novel, Piercing. They will appeal to fans of transgressive fiction, who read books for blood and guts, which I do not really have a problem with, but Murakami’s books, including this one, don’t have a lot to offer besides shocking violence and aberrant sexuality. It is interesting though, and it does keep your attention, but it can come off as a cheap way to engage the reader. Murakami does have moments in this book that are successful at delving into deeply human emotional trauma, and it is quite powerful, but those moments are few and far between in this novel, which seems to sacrifice logic and story for shock value. I like the premise a lot and think it would make a great movie if it were ever to be adapted. A man named Kawashima seemingly has a perfect life, with a wife who stays at home and teaches cooking classes at home while she nurses their newborn. But at night, he stands over the baby’s crib holding an icepick, promising himself he will fight the urge to stab her with it. Losing this battle with himself, he goes in search of a victim, a mission that puts him on the equally violent path of Chiaki, a prostitute whose sexual problems rival Kawashima’s. In any other book, these two would find some solace in one another, but here, they are intent on destroying on another. It is an ugly and depressing progression with little redeeming value, despite moments at the beginning showing the troubled past of Kawashima and possible reasons for his psychosis. It’s a quick read, but far from a pleasant one.

Rating: 4/5

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