Adventures in Reading

Dark Water by Koji Suzuki
February 25, 2008, 6:01 pm
Filed under: book reviews, short stories

I was toying the other afternoon of 2008 being my year of world literature reading, and as inspiring of an idea as it is I am terribly with sticking with these sorts of goals and it will be interesting to see how long it lasts. However, a reading adventure I really wish to pursue this year is more reading outside of my comfort zone genres. I definitely lean towards capital “L” Literature, but I truly hope this year I can break more out of the box. Combining my latest pursuits of voraciously reading Japanese literature and breaking free from “Literature” I stumbled onto Dark Water by Koji Suzuki. For those of you unfamiliar with the names. Suzuki wrote the novels inspiring the film The Ring and its sequel, which were made in both Japan and the USA. Ring terrified me and thanks to an ex-boyfriend’s prank I went weeks before I could have a paranoia free shower. In addition, other films have been adapted from Suzuki’s stories such as Floating Water, which is the first story in this collection.

Dark Water is a collection of stories, how I adore short stories, told in a frame work. A grandmother who has her granddaughter visiting for a week tells her a scary story every day that somehow relates to Tokyo Bay and specifically to water. Reading Suzuki I appreciated him for the mental terror he stimulated in me though at first I had been tempted to abandon the collection. I appreciate short stories for the delivered twist and most of Suzuki’s stories in Dark Water have a minor if any twist. The information is presented and the plot unrolls. In retrospect, Suzuki presents a good deal of subtle material that I did not even consider until I was far into the next story.

Additionally, I loved Dark Water, like House of Leaves, for the lack of detailed graphic and grotesque violence. I simply cannot stomach excess violence and I have set aside books and walked out of movie houses as a result. In most of Suzuki’s stories, he relies on subtly suggested violence, stark realism, and the reader’s already present embedded and learned fears. Water takes on many qualities and is often represented as a tranquil rolling ocean sound on meditation CDs. However, water definitely has a dark quality and Suzuki plays with this darkness – physically not being able to see through deep water, water’s ability to manoeuvre through any natural blockade, water’s natural ability to move and decay items, etc. – and he manages to manipulate the reader into realizing the frightening side of a natural item we depend upon for survival.

Dark Water is a thrilling collection and I cannot wait to read Ring (which I have ordered from the library). Despite my enjoyment of the collection, I doubt its One Book material though that will not stop me from bringing it to the next meeting!

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