January 3rd, 2009

hiroshige: foxfires on musashino


Reading Moonwise. Given how long it takes me to read normal prose, I shall probably still be reading this in June, like Proust or (more appositely) Joyce.

At the start I was all-- well, I was all how anyone would be in the face of stuff like this:
Hill beyond blue whalebacked hill rose lightward, transparencies of stone, all etched with runic woods, enduring. She had known their green unison, their tongues of fire; so read time past in bare notation. Winter had distilled.
As Dorothy Parker said, 'She can go on like this for pages. Can, hell-- does.'
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foxfire foxes


Please note that I read a book in a day. In something like two hours, in fact. It was vol 3 of the Ai no Kusabi translation and seriously weirded me out.

Of course I'd have started at vol 1 if The Beguiling had had it, but they didn't. 'S'ok, I read the first part in Japanese,' I told the guy cheerfully, and went off to read. I think I got about two-thirds through the Japanese before giving up, so I figured even vol 3 of the English must be before that-- 165 smallish pages a volume when English always expands the Japanese. And there, yes, are passages I remember-- the pet laws, the game of gigolo-- but in the middle of this is stuff I have no memory of at all. Robby? Thor? Jeeks? My Japanese was that bad? My katakana was that bad? We're farther along than I thought? No, because vol 3 ends with Guy's kidnapping and I got much farther than that; but I know I never met any red-haired Thors with funny eyes. And here's an afterword from the author written in... 2004? What?

Then I read the small print on the back of the cover: 'revised and expanded since its original publication.' Oh. Dear. Because red-haired Thors apart, what's been added is umpty-many reiterations of the same sex scene, and a total screw around with the continuity, according to the infamous 'note each event on a stack of cards, throw them up in the air, write the book in the sequence they fall down' technique. Novelists need to be told they're not mangaka: there are no black borders to tip the readers off that we're into flashback.

There's no editor or rewriter listed for this one, and it shows. The combination of street English and stilt, sometimes in the same sentence, is dizzying. "The desire stuck like a hot shiv in his gut." "Getting in their faces and taking them down a few notches didn't do the job, so he preferred to mix things up with the security guards and vent that way. He'd seriously thrown down with them once, no holds barred, and caught sheer hell for it."

(Just glanced at the Japanese version. The passage of nine years has rendered it a lot easier to read than I'd thought. Maybe I'll have another stab at it after all.)
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