Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Spring Garden, by Tomoka Shibasaki translated by Polly Barton. Pushkin Press, 2014

This is a rather odd little book. Divorced Taro, who seems to have no friends, lives in a rundown apartment building, which will be torn down once the leases all run out. Over a concrete wall, he can see the top of the house next door from his balcony. It’s a big, expensive, house, with a sky blue roof. One day, he sees one of his neighbors trying to climb up the wall. She’s not a robber; she’s obsessed with the house. Years before, she found a book of photographs called “Spring Garden”- the house the photos were taken of is the sky blue house next door. She wants to see the house, inside and out. The photo book, that is all interior shots some of which show the home owners, has given the house a kind of mythic beauty for her. As she schemes to get inside the house, Taro finds himself drawn into her obsession.

Not much happens in the book. They see the house. He sees the current house under laid by the photos in the book, just like he sees signs of the rivers and streams that have been tamed and forced into culverts underground all over the city. The whole world is a palimpsest.

Despite the lack of action, I sped through the book. I, too, became enamored of the beauty of the house, and how the now overlays the past. Four stars, even though it is, as I said, odd. 

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I received this book free from the Amazon Vine program in return for an unbiased review. 

neither of these things influenced my review.  

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