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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Twinkle Twinkle by Ekuni Kaori 
3rd-Oct-2006 10:18 pm
I heard good things about this novel in the Pages magazine...but I should've known better--Vertical's licenses have been consistently underwhelming in literary quality thus far.

Ekuni, Kaori. Twinkle Twinkle. Trans. Emi Shimokawa. New York: Vertical, 2003. (Original Japanese Edition: 1991)
Summary: Originally titled Pika Pika Hikaru. A mentally unstable, alcoholic woman and a gay man enter into an arranged marriage...but it turns out to be anything but a union of convenience, and the two must negotiate the genuine affection and concern that they feel with each other.
Comments: Good God, woman, could you be anymore screwed up!? Not that, on the balance, I liked Ekuni's characterization of her picture-perfect, endlessly patient gay man any better. THAT was just totally unrealistic. Nobody's really that saintly--especially in their own heads. Sorry. Actually, in spite of the whole "I" novel format (which, a bit unusually, alternates narrators), what you end up with is Shoko befriending her husband Mutsuki's boyfriend Kon (with whom he is monogamous) and ultimately forming a non-traditional familial threesome of sorts--with a baby possible for the future. These sorts of stories were quite popular awhile back; Michael Cunningham's A Home at the End of the World, which was published only a year earlier than Ekuni's debut, comes to mind in particular. However, unlike Cunningham, Ekuni thinks that it could be workable. And I'm just not convinced...even though arranged marriages with gay men are much coveted among certain circles of Japanese women. (Probably this novel's fault, at least in part.) About the only thing I really enjoyed while reading this novel was Shoko's transference of her need express her affection to her plant and goldfish.
Notes: hardcover, 1st American edition
Rating: 4.5/10 - An only passable translation coupled with a "realistic" novel that requires more suspension of disbelief than is reasonable does not reading pleasure make.
17th-Dec-2006 01:13 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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