You should read Revenge. It’s kind of twisted.

Revenge:Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa

Revenge:Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa

My interest in this book was piqued some time ago by a review on NPR. I sometimes like to listen to the worldly musings of intelligent people after a day of listening to shrill whining of children. He skipped me. She’s looking at me. He’s talking about her mom. She’s making fun of my hair. He’s breathing on me. I used to get frustrated when a mother wouldn’t answer her kid in the grocery store after hearing “mom. mom. mom. mom.” a thousand times but now I understand that she probably just doesn’t even register the voice anymore.

Anyway, like the weary mother, I almost tuned out the review. Eleven short stories… not really my style. I prefer novels. Interconnected… blah blah blah.  Then I heard this phrase: “…the narrator’s landlady grows carrots in her garden in the shape of human hands”.

Wait- Wha?

And so I went home and promptly downloaded Revenge onto my Kindle. It everything that the NPR review promised. Eleven interconnecting stories, each one a little freakier than the last. Both NPR and The New York Observer compare Ogawa to Edgar Allen Poe while the Economist compares her to David Lynch saying there is a “…rot that lurks beneath the surface”. The stories aren’t gorey or bloody- despite the hands as carrots imagery – they’re more of a quiet creepy. You know how it’s way more unsettling when someone speaks quietly in a calm,collected, maybe even monotone voice than it is when they scream and get all red and sweaty? Think HAL from 2001: Space Odessy. Ogawa is that kind of creepy. Ogawa makes a girl gorging herself on kiwis one of the saddest and most skin crawling passages I’ve ever read. I mean, it’s just that freakin weird.

Ogawa intertwines the stories in a beautiful way, sometimes obviously, such as a mysterious body in an early tale getting it’s back story later on in the collection. But my favorite connections are the ones that are so delicate they almost seem like a coincidence, such as a strawberry cake that a mother buys for her dead child happens to be a dessert in the next story, giving the read a cyclical feeling. Characters and objects make guest appearances throughout the stories and catching the little things felt really rewarding. Like a mature, well read version of Where’s Waldo. Or like watching Airplane or some other movie with a lot of cameos.

Anyway, in summary, you should read it. Ogawa’s ending brings you back around to the beginning, but not in such a way that leaves everything tied up in a neat little bow. Like the end of this review.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MistressCinder
    Jun 25, 2013 @ 22:32:42

    Sounds good. I love short stories.


  2. squee1313
    Jun 25, 2013 @ 22:41:18

    Yay, Kimtastic posted. Now I really want to read this book.


  3. Christi
    Jun 25, 2013 @ 22:50:35

    Sounds super subtle in a good way! I may have to check it out. Thanks for sharing this!


  4. kimtastic7878
    Jun 25, 2013 @ 23:32:09

    I wouldn’t have been offended if you read it before I posted about it. But the entire time I was reading it I was thinking you’d love it.


  5. themisanthropologist
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 01:27:49

    I read this book and thought it was strangely interesting. I like how the stories are somewhat related to each other too. It’s a bit sad, overall, but that’s also what I liked about it.


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