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review 2016-04-02 13:35
The ugliness of the spirit
Grotesque - Natsuo Kirino

I love an unreliable narrator. There’s something to be said for a straightforward narrative where the only unreliability is people being woefully unaware that the person they’re always arguing with is the person they’re secretly in love with, but sometimes I prefer something a little meatier. And this story of death, jealousy and hate – of other people and of oneself – is a twisting puzzle all the way through where you’re never sure who to believe. We get multiple, disagreeing accounts of the same events, testimonies which have been potentially tampered with and just people’s inability to see their own lives for what they are.

 

Our narrator is ostensibly describing the events leading up to the murders of her sister Yuriko and her high school … friend? .. Kazue, who were both working as prostitutes at the time of their murders. But what we learn most about is these three’s lives growing up.

 

Our nameless narrator hates and says she’s repulsed by or scared of her sister, who she says is so beautiful that she actually looks unreal, like a monster, and whose eyes are inhuman. Everyone is fascinated by her and men lust after her, and according to the narrator, hate her sister and their mom for not being as pretty and striking.

 

Reading the general narration is difficult. Not because of the writing – it’s actually both well-written and colloquial, very heavy on voice. But the narrator has a bitterness to her you don’t usually encounter. She describes things in the ugliest terms possible most times, and sometimes she’ll start out describing something in a kind or neutral way, but her thoughts dissolve into nastiness the moment the person does something she dislikes or perceives as a slight. It’s sort of fascinating, trying to work out what the truth is from what she says and sees. And at times we also delve into writings by other people – the two murdered women and the man accused of killing them. But the women’s journals are both filtered through our narrator, so it’s hard to believe they have been left untouched – especially Yuriko’s, where the narrator actually says she had to “rewrite” bits that were hard to read.

 

Meanwhile, the accused killer’s account is so self-serving and pity-seeking that it’s difficult to take at face value.

 

The tale is, like I said, about the two murders on the surface, but mainly it’s about these women, and about the way they view themselves in society. About the ways they try to take power over their lives and yet remain , in a way, trapped by a society in which they are only allowed a few specific roles. Be the good, subservient wife, regardless of your own internal life or desires; be the career woman, partly there for useful work and partly there for added office decoration for your male coworkers; or be the slut, carnal and disposable. And our characters all think they understand how the world works, but in the end, only maybe one does.

 

In the end, this is a book about tragic, haunting lives and the ruin that civilization and expectation can make of people. It was well worth the read and I think I’ll have to look up more by Natsuo Kirino.

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review 2014-10-27 20:56
The Grotesque by Patrick McGrath
The Grotesque - Patrick McGrath

 

Film only

Description: This exuberantly spooky novel, in which horror, repressed eroticism, and sulfurous social comedy intertwine like the vines in an overgrown English garden, is now a major motion picture, starring Alan Bates, Sting, and Theresa Russell

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text 2014-01-27 04:05
Mudwoman - Joyce Carol Oates
Bellefleur - Joyce Carol Oates
We Were the Mulvaneys (Oprah's Book Club) - Joyce Carol Oates
Black Water - Joyce Carol Oates
Blonde - Joyce Carol Oates
Zombie - Joyce Carol Oates
Beasts - Joyce Carol Oates
Because it is Bitter, and Because it is My Heart - Joyce Carol Oates
Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque - Joyce Carol Oates

The older I get as a woman, and the more I grow as a writer, the more strongly I feel about this conviction:

I must read as much of Joyce Carol Oates' work as I possibly can.

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review 2013-11-29 00:00
Grotesque
Grotesque - Natsuo Kirino The Accidental Reader Book Reviews and More

This book confused me so much when it comes to the rating. It;s one of those books that belong in the in between and I really didn't know how to rate it. So I closed my eyes and gave it a 3.

Like all Natsuo Kirino's books you get to see the story from multiple POV'S and I guess that's a good thing but not in Grotesque. At some point the narration becomes really boring while we get to know the background of Yuriko's murderer , and my opinion is that it was unnecessary for the author to do so in this book. I would like the book a lot better if it was based on two POV's instead of 3. It would me more mysterious and more fast paced and enjoyable rather than painful. Although , I wanted to commit suicide from boredom I couldn't put the book down because it was enjoyable from a whole different aspect...modern Japan.

While the main protagonist lives her life and tells the story of her sister Yuriko we get to see a Japan so much different than the cuteness and the happiness that we know. It's a Japan dark and grey where people judge from appearance and are nosy and above all they see mixed Japanese as ''bastards'' . You get to know the ''goods'' and bad's of prostitution and why people choose this kind of life. Kirino did a really good job with the writing in this one, although the translation had a lot of mistakes and at some points you couldn't make sense, blending fiction with reality in a book that was really intriguing and in the end sad.

I didn;t enjoy this book as much I did with Out and Real World but I have to give it to her for her writing and the way she makes you see the real world people live in.
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review 2013-10-27 06:53
Still Missing
Still Missing - Chevy Stevens

 

 This was a difficult book for me to read. It is about abuse and captivity and being victimized. It drew me in and compelled to finish it but I don't know if I gained anything from the time I spent reading it.

 

I don't think it's really fair to rate it down because of the horrific content but I can't help it. It might read like a four star book but it's only getting three from me.

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