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A Sea of Hatred

GrotesqueGrotesque cover image

Kirino, Natsuo (translated by Rebecca Copeland)

Vintage, 2003

ISBN: 978 0 099 52083

I’d like to think I’m a pretty patient individual.  I’m okay with working slowly toward things, as long as I feel like the rewards are either incrementally increasing as I go through my task, or that the eventual reward is going to be worth the effort.  This book has taken me a stonkingly long time to finish, nearly six months for 467 pages.  That’s pretty shabby by anyone’s standards.

I mean, you can tell that a book called Grotesque is going to be pretty much up my alley, right?  Pretty promising, lots of references to murder and prostitution and stuff like that.  But the going got tough when I realised that the characters were all pretty much entirely obtuse, which I think is why I had such a hard time getting into it.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, the obtuseness is actually part of the characters, self-indulgent little trollops they are too, but for the most part it was like being talked at by a fourteen year old girl who is yet to realise that the Earth doesn’t actually revolve around her.

This may be made worse by the fact that it’s told in the first person for the first half.  Usually I really like this, when you’ve got two characters squaring off with each other about which version of the truth is the correct one.  This one is a little weird though, because you’ve got two sisters telling you their stories.  One sister, the elder, is embittered, angry – but it’s not a good rage-y kind of anger, more like it comes off as being slightly pathetic.  She’s always moaning on about how horrid (and yet, beautiful) her younger sister Yuriko is, which I have to say, gets a little tedious.  Yuriko is the other voice; she’s just as pathetic, but has this kind of veneer of intractability and stubbornness.  Yuriko is determined to use her sexuality in this really twisted way, which seemingly why she becomes a prostitute in the first place – she sees it as the only way that she can have power over men.

So far, so boring right?

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