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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Real World by Kirino Natsuo 
15th-Aug-2008 11:40 pm
Kirino, Natsuo. Real World. Trans. Philip Gabriel. New York: Knopf, 2008.
          Summary: On her way to summer cram school one morning, Toshi notices a boy she has nicknamed Worm. For some inexplicable reason, he looks happy, and later she learns that he has murdered his mother and is on the run. But instead of turning him in, she and her three friends end up assisting his escape. This, naturally, ultimately leads to tragedy--one girl, Kirarin, dies in a car accident while with Worm, and another, Terauchi, commits suicide after realizing that her act of tipping the police off about Worm's whereabouts led to Kirarin's death.
          Comments: It's been a long wait for a new Kirino novel, but here it is at last. This is the third novel by Kirino Natsuo to be published in English, and--to my utter dismay--it is the most disappointing thus far. Though not plagued by the over-literal translation of Grotesque, it lacks the emotional depths and visceral horror of Out, and the multiple points of view now start to feel too formulaic. (It also lacks the length, so there is less time for the prose to develop its otherwise characteristic nuance. Oh, and dude, the close up of the creepy Asian woman on the cover is three for three now...and getting very old very quickly.) As usual, you have plenty of self-hating women, but there is a tired, brute banality here that I have not seen in Kirino's other novels. As the you might gather from the title and the synopsis, this story is about growing up and coming to grips with the "real world"...and it's like Shoujo Kakumei Utena on a bad meth trip or Y Tu Mamá También crossed with Psycho. The real world is boring, ugly, and definitely not glamorous. If you're unlucky, it could kill you. And, furthermore, there is no running away from it.
          Notes: hardcover, 1st American edition
          Rating: 3.5/10 - Terribly disappointing. Kirino was just punching the card here, and so, for that matter, was veteran translator Gabriel.
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