You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Volume Six is a bit bland for this series.

Past volumes have included such explosive episodes of Japanese history as the biological weapons devision of WW II and the Nanking massacre. This go round, the topical issue is the privatization of the postal service initiated in 2007 by outgoing prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. This causes a not particularly interesting development in the delivery service's business model.

Things get back in gear when Numata moves into an apartment with a suspiciously low rent. It turns out to be the scene of not one but two crimes. This narrative is interrupted by a gaiden. Gaiden are side stories that may have information eventually relevant to the main narrative or serve as historical side pieces. This one takes place in the Meiji period, concerns the serial killings of prostitutes, and uses a motif I first encountered on the TV series Thriller when I was in elementary school.

Spectacularly lurid images enliven the text, but less often than usual. The notes, of Disject Membra.  are entertaining and exhaustive as ever although even here the English language editors allow themselves a small vacation.  The topic concerns an early 20th century academic debate over the nature of Japan's prehistoric inhabitants. After stating the barest outline of the controversy, the note ends

...actually there were other differences as well, but unusually for Disjecta Membra, we are not going to get into it.

In this series, every life has a second act

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