23346858Sometimes I just don’t get it no matter how closely I read a book. Take Parade by Shuichi Yoshida. I read Villain: A Novel a couple of years back and my comment for that novel and its author was: Detailed; exacting; complex; boring. I suspect my comments for Parade would be similar if not worse.

The novel deals with four main characters who share an apartment: two bedrooms, two women, and two men. The novel is structured in multiple parts, each being narrated by a different roommate. Somewhere early on there is a Chekov moment when a warning is being distributed about brutal attacks on lone women in the neighborhood. Other than some speculation that a young hustler crashing on the sofa might be nefarious, there really is nothing in the different narratives to suggest a solution to the mystery or even to suggest that the mysterious attacks are a significant element of the narrative.

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Popular Hits of the Showa Era

RyuRyu Murakami, is one of my contemporary “go to” writers. He’s very good but perhaps more important, he’s very versatile and although his works generally provide a representation of life in the Japan of today, sometimes he writes fantasy, sometimes horror, sometimes hip-hop counter culture. Ryu Murakami is also a talented film maker.

We met Ryu earlier with his scary/gory/upsetting novel Audition. Popular Hits of the Showa Era is almost as violent but the violence is more stylized and less ritualistic. Here the story is of a group of young men who are not exactly friends but they regularly meet to try and find some excitement in their lives. The weekly routine eventually becomes getting drunk, having a rousing game of Stone-Scissors-Paper, and engaging in an elaborate Karaoke show on a deserted beach in the middle of the night.

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