Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: Piercing by Ryu Murakami (1994)


Piercing by Ryū Murakami

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Blurb: In Piercing, Murakami, in his own unique style, explores themes of child abuse and what happens to the voiceless among us, weaving a disturbing, spare tale of two people who find each other and then are forced into hurting each other deeply because of the haunting specter of their own abuse as children. Piercing is set in Tokyo and follows Kawashima Masayuki trying to come to terms with his overwhelming desire to stab his infant child with an Ice Pick. He resolves to divert the impulse into an unsuspecting prostitute. However as he begins to execute his meticulous crime everything, including his past, begins to unravel.

Thoughts: This was a seriously dark read. I'm not sure if you can really call Piercing an enjoyable read in the traditional sense but as with my previous Ryu Murakami experience this trip in to the world of two damaged little fuckers was incredibly satisfying.
"Ten nights ago. He was in the bathtub with the baby, having just finished washing her. He handed her over to Yoko, who was waiting with a fluffy bath towel, and then he leaned back in the tub, leaving the pebbled-glass shower door partially open. Yoko was murmuring to the baby as she dried her, and he was aware of himself smiling at them. And then, with no prelude or warning, a thought came percolating up into his brain and he felt the muscles of his cheeks twitch and freeze.

'I wouldn’t ever stab that baby with an ice pick, would I?'
"
The content is at times quite disturbing in it's descriptions of physical torture but possibly even more disturbing is the empathy and compassion you find yourself feeling for these two people who are clearly not entirely sane. Whilst this literary descent in to a nightmare world has the potential to be gore-filled the prose is actually restrained, using it's language sparingly to convey maximum effect and grim imagery. This is horror but not as we ordinarily consider it.

The writing of The Other Murakami is something wonderful to immerse yourself in and so very impressive for that very reason. Any moment I had to stop reading I found myself constantly thinking about the characters and the situation they were in, almost desperate to go back to it and find out what would happen.
“In heated rooms, he often felt the outlines of his body, the border between him and the external world, grow disturbingly fuzzy.”
It's a nerve shredding, adrenaline rush of a novel that leaves you turning the page in eager anticipation and whilst I cannot recommend this for everyone because of the hard to swallow content I feel it is something that deserves to be read by anyone not easily offended.

World cinema fans will know what it is like to experience the dark imagination of Ryu Murakami already; he is the author of Audition, the novel that Takashi Miike adapted for his shocking and disturbing movie of the same name, and whilst Piercing is not at that same level it still packs a real punch on multiple levels. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to explore their literary boundaries and suggest following it up with the even more impressive In The Miso Soup.

Further Viewing Suggestions:
Audition
American Psycho
Lost Highway


Additional Reading:
In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami
Out by Natsuo Kirino
Requiem For A Dream by Hubert Selby Jr.


View all my book reviews

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