First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
An unusual story for the time and place in which it was written, the author aims to re-create sensuous impressions and convey nuances of the human condition in a few imagistic lines.
Happy Friday everyone! Alas, it is the weekend. It’s time to ditch those work clothes and don comfortable clothes. It is also time to do tasks we were unable to do during the work week. I have quite a lot. For those who love sports and want to keep in shape, it is also a good time to do so. I have been playing badminton these past few weekends. This is my substitute for my weekend trekking adventures. Apart from badminton, I also play volleyball and lawn tennis. I am an avid follower of professional tennis and I occasionally watch professional volleyball games. I also used to be a sportswriter back in high school. Anyway, I hope you are doing well wherever you may be. The threat of the pandemic remains pregnant in the air, coupled with the looming presence of monkeypox (not again, sigh). Anyway, I do hope that you are doing fine and that you are healthy, in mind, body, and spirit. Do rest well during the weekend.
Before I can dive into the weekends, let me close this week with a fresh First Impression Friday update. This is my last First Impression Friday update for July. I can’t believe it is already August in three days. August is often referred to as the ghost month, a month believed to bring bad luck to couples, families, and businesses. Children, senior citizens, and sick individuals are discouraged from going out during the night lest they be attacked by bad spirits. Anyway, I hope the best for August. In July, I have been reading works of Japanese literature, a part of the vast literary world that I love going back to. A familiar territory, it has become some sort of my comfort zone. It is an entire ecosystem where different genres and subgenres thrive. Earlier today, I finished Sayaka Murata’s sensational work, Convenience Store Woman. I then started reading Naoya Shiga’s A Dark Night’s Passing.
A Dark Night’s Passing caps my July Japanese literature reading month. This is my first novel by Naoya Shiga. Had it not been for an online bookseller, I would have not encountered the novel. Sans any iota on what the book was about, I nevertheless obtained a copy of it. The only reason was it was a work of Japanese literature. I was actually planning on reading Morio Kita’s The House of Nire but it was quite thick so I opted for A Dark Night’s Passing which is half the length of The House of Nire. Oh well, I just might read The House of Nire later this year or perhaps next year. After all, it is a parody of Nobel Laureate in Literature Thomas Mann’s work. I have featured both books in my past two Goodreads Monday updates as well.
While researching the book, I learned that A Dark Night’s Passing was Shiga’s only full-length novel; Shiga wrote more short stories than novels and that he published works intermittently. A Dark Night’s Passing, was published in serialized form in the magazine Kaizō between 1921 and 1937 and was originally published as An’ya kōro ((暗夜行路). The completion of the book virtually ended Shiga’s literary career. At the heart of the story is Tokitō Kensaku. When he was six years old, his mother passed away. Since his father was anything but distant from him, Tokitō was sent to his grandfather. He was cared for by his paternal grandfather and his grandfather’s mistress, Oei. While Oei was no blood relation, Tokitō and Oei grew fond of each other. When his grandfather passed away, Tokitō continued to live with Oei.
When we first meet Tokitō, he was already a young man. We meet his friends, at least some of them. We also learn that they are a group of intellects. Well, at least, they are writers. Tokitō himself was an aspiring writer. With the heritage his grandfather left him, he can live quite comfortably. In the first few chapters, it seems that Shiga is laying out the landscape of the story. We learn about Tokitō, his dreams, his aspirations, and even his romantic notions. It doesn’t take much to foresee that this is a character-driven novel. He does seem like a typical young adult, at least from my vantage point. Who knows what might happen as the story moves forward?
You see, the synopsis does pique my interest. On Goodreads, the blurb says: “Tells the story of a young man’s passage through a sequence of disturbing experiences to a hard-worn truce with the destructive forces within himself.” It points out a central conflict that will affect Tokitō. I surmise this has something to do with his mother that has restrained his relationship with his father. Other blurbs allude to a dark family secret that Tokitō discovered and tried to run away from. There are quite a lot of mysteries waiting to be unveiled. Moreover, the blurbs are quite ominous; highly personal novels written by Japanese writers – this is classified as an “I” novel – can be outrightly cloudy but, unlike the animated film, with no chance of meatballs. Yes, I can already sense the gloom that the novel is wrapped in.
I am also curious if Tokitō will be a successful writer. At over 400-pages, the book is rather thick but I am always up to the task. I am curious about this new voice. Moreover, the story, translated by Edwin McClellan, is quite accessible. Interestingly, Yukio Mishima expressed admiration for Shiga. However, Mishima’s admiration was not reciprocated by Shiga. How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. For now, happy weekend! And as always, happy reading and take care!