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Book 6: Piercing

November 10, 2009


Ryu Murakami is one of my favorite authors.  He is sometimes known as the “other Murakami” due to Japan’s most famous author, Haruki Murakami (Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, Wind up Bird Chronicles) having a similar name.  To add, they are of similar age.  I enjoy Haruki very much and find him immensely talented, but Ryu’s heights as a writer are so much more epic.

The first book I read by him was Coin Locker Babies, which I will review on its own.  Since then I have read everything of his translated into English that I could get my hands on.  He is delightfully fetishized with a scary amount of realistic knowledge of the depraved mind.  His books tend to run the gambit of murderousness and sexuality, but those don’t necessarily need to be the focal point.  His characters have such a deep well of emotional background that the full picture is there on the pages before you.  Forget setting the scene, though he is good at that as well, its just that seeing things through his character’s eyes can be disturbing and gut wrenching because of how close to home the emotions can hit.  Many of his characters are psychotic, and many of their decisions are made by that crazy mind, but its seems like Murakami consistently wants to remind you how little different you are from certain aspects of their madness.

Rationality plays a large role in his novels, but it isn’t the rationality of a person we know, just portions that together make a monster.  Piercing, first published in 1994, translated in 2007, starts with Kawashima, a new family man, standing over his baby lying in the crib.  Kawashima is holding an ice pick trying to convince himself not to stab the baby.  Through faulty wiring, debased reasoning, and a troubled past, after having avoided stabbing his child, he concludes that he needs to stab someone else in order to stop the original urge from taking over.  He tries to carry out his lethal tendency on an unsuspecting S&M call girl but sson realizes she has problems of her own.

The book touches a lot on what childhood abuse can do to a person and the emotional and physical pain that will always live beneath the surface waiting to escape like a separate person shoving you down one path or the other wanting you to fight back so they can make things worse.

I know this book is too disturbing for many people, it even got to me at points and I have read many other books of his.  I don’t think it is his best, but it is a quick read and unless you get sick, hard to put down.

It is supposed to stay in your mind for a while.  Supposed to leave a dirty feeling all over you. Supposed to make your skin crawl.  Just like the title, the book achieves all of these.

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