Thursday, March 19, 2009

Piercing, Ryu Murakami

Posted by lea at 12:03 PM
This is the second Japanese author I've read this month and I have to say that the impression they're leaving is not a particularly good one. I didn't write a review of Haruki Murakami's Blind Woman, Sleeping Willow because I didn't finish it and felt that I shouldn't write a review on the basis of having read only half the short stories in the book. The fact that it remains unfinished speaks for itself.

The opening of Piercing is quite chilling - mild-mannered Masayuki stands over the crib of his sleeping baby with a pick axe in his hand, fighting the urge to stab her. He then determines to use the pick axe on someone else (a prostitute, he decides) in order to ensure that he doesn't harm his baby and destroy his life with his wife Yoko. However, his meticulous plans to kidnap, torture and kill go awry when he picks up S&M prostitute Chiako, who's even more messed up than he is. What neither of them knows (which we the readers do) is that both were abused as children - Masayuki was beaten by his mother, while Chiako was sexually abused by her father. Murakami's didactic take on this is that the after-affects of child abuse leads to adults who either hurt others (Misayuki) or harm themselves (Chiako).

The night leads to a wild tumble of events with both characters out of control and unable to see clearly. After much misunderstanding and violence (don't want to give the story away), they seem somehow to come to a point of mutual empathy, based on nothing else but seeing their own brokenness mirrored in the other.

While the suffering and self-hatred of both characters is evident in the story, there's a distinct lack of sympathy. Through the story, Murakami is making a statement about Japanese society and child-abuse, but Piercing is still very much a psychosexual thriller meant to keep us on the edge of our seats and turning the pages. And it does that quite successfully. Whether it's from sheer curiosity or morbid fascination, Piercing will keep you reading to the end.

2 comments:

laura on March 22, 2009 at 9:45 PM said...

oh no!! the stories at the end are the best ones
but you are right, there are many much better English authors.

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