Child of Darkness

Child of DarknessFurui, Yoshikicki. Child of Darkness; Yoko and Other Stories. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1997.

I’ll be the first to admit it. In the beginning pages I wasn’t connecting to this book at all. The first story, “Yoko”,  opens with a nameless, faceless, ageless man hurrying down a mountain. He comes across a women sitting on a rock in a ravine. She’s stuck, not by a force of nature, but a force of her own mind. She can’t move from her perch and needs him to help her get down. Later she blames the incident on acrophobia. What’s interesting is this is the one place in the entire story where the same scene is described from both her and his point of view. Later her issues are only described as an “illness” and the word acrophobia never resurfaces. It is suspected that the illness is shrouded in vagrity because the Japanese view mental illness as a taboo subject. Yoko is a strange woman. Sane one minute, paralyzed by her illness the next. The rest of the story is how the nameless, faceless (now we know he is young) man copes with a relationship with Yoko. Half accepting her mental state as is, half wanting to “cure” her.

The next story also deals with mental illness but from the perspective of someone who is dying of cancer (also a taboo subject in Japan). I am more sympathetic towards the cancer victim. There is a sense of insanity when you have been told you have the disease. I can only imagine what depths your psyche would sink to when you are told it’s terminal.

The third and final story is also about sinking into insanity. This time a
These stories, translated by Donna George Storey, also includes her critiques. It’s interesting to rewalk the stories with an analytical map. It’s like seeing a city for the second time after you learn it’s history. Everything looks different.

BookLust Twist: Under the heading “Japan Fiction” Nancy Pearl calls Child of Darkness “dark.” Yup (p. 32).

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