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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Piercing by Murakami Ryu 
26th-Jan-2009 04:40 pm
Murakami, Ryu. Piercing. Trans. Ralph McCarthy. London: Bloomsbury, 2007.
          Summary: Kawashima Masayuki's wife Yoko has just had a baby. Why does he find himself standing over the crib with an ice pick? Desperate to direct his murderous impulses elsewhere, he hires a prostitute named Chiakki to stab instead. But she, like Kawashima himself, was horribly abused as a child, and nothing goes as planned for either of them...
          Comments: This short novel was originally published in 1994. Why hello there, Basic Instinct! (Yes, that's where the conceit of the ice pick comes from.) Anyway, I was more than half expecting Piercing to be a morbid female exploitation/snuff fetish story with hipster stylizing. That's what Boomsbury's cover illustration suggested, at least. But I was rather wrong, and I should have expected more of Murakami. The author actually digs deeply into the wounded psyches of both Kawashima and Chiaki, and it's clear that he's actually read some of the literature on child abuse.
          I was, however, terribly disappointed by the ending. It stops pretty much in the middle of nowhere--awakening after an aborted attempt to murder her (by ice pick piercing, Kawashima sees Chiaki about to pierce her nipple (see the connection, huh huh huh?)--and nothing is resolved. All we know is that Chiaki is certain that he will leave her. As far as I can tell, though, what was really left behind was this novel. It's as if Murakami got tired or bored with the story, or perhaps he wrote himself into a corner and couldn't figure out a way to bring the novel to a satisfactory conclusion. You keep thinking that there should be more after Chapter 11...but there isn't. All in all, Piercing is a promising plot that fails to realize its full potential.
          Rating: 5/10 - Japanese suspense/thriller aficionados and Murakami Ryu fans will undoubtedly want to read this one. But everyone else would do just as well to ignore it.
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