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Interweb reviews: Strangers, Taichi Yamada (Translated by Wayne P. Lammers)

T22

Ik heb nog nooit een boek in één ruk uitgelezen. Hell, ik heb zelfs nog nooit een boek binnen een week uitgelezen. Eens moet de eerste keer zijn. Strangers heb ik in twee dagen verorberd. Nu moet ik toegeven dat het niet echt een dik boek is, en de marges vrij groot zijn, maar toch, I was impressed.

Strangers is, technisch gezien, een ghost story. Maar veel meer dan dat is het een gevoelig verhaal over de connectie tussen een zoon en zijn ouders.
De hoofdpersoon is Hideo Harada, een 48 jarige schrijver die in z'n eentje in een vervallen appartementje in Tokyo woont, pal naast een drukke snelweg. Een van de redenen dat ik Strangers zo geweldig vond, is dat Harada een heel geloofwaardig en herkenbaar karakter is. Z'n leven zuigt, hij is recentelijk gescheiden, hij heeft net genoeg geld om zichzelf te onderhouden, z'n zoon haat 'm en door al de negativiteit in z'n leven is hij zelf een eenzame en cynische man geworden. En over dat soort mensen lees ik het liefst. Check bijvoorbeeld deze passage van vroeg in het verhaal:

"And so to the fateful day in early August — August 4th, to be exact. Late that afternoon, I picked out a necktie at a department store in Ginza.
"It's for a gift," I told the thirtyish sales clerk.
She selected four or five ties from inside the glass case and arranged them on the counter. They all seemed a little too dark and subdued to me, and I said so.
"You did say the person was in his forties?"
"Yes, late forties."
"In that case, I don't think he'd find these too subdued, but let me see…" She quickly selected another four or five ties and laid them on the counter. This time her selections were so flashy I almost winced at the glare.
"How about something halfway between these and those?" I said.
She apparently didn't understand the sort of thing I had in mind. "Such as?" she asked.
"Something that's neither too restrained nor too loud," I said as I began scanning the entire selection in the glass case myself. I soon saw that I was asking for the impossible; I was asking for something they did not have.
It hit me then that my efforts to make something of the new independence I had gained were much the same. I flailed about unable to put my finger on exactly what it was that I wanted, dissatisfied with what seemed too sober, recoiling from what seemed too wild, looking for something that simply did not exist.
In the end, even though I doubted I would ever actually wear it, I left the store carrying a flashy cream-colored tie with bold swaths of orange and yellow and green splashed across it.
I was disgusted with myself for having said it was a gift. A man my age giving himself a necktie for his birthday — how pathetic was that?"

Harada's leven wordt lichtjes wakker geschud wanneer hij op een avond in een theater iemand tegen komt die hij herkent uit zijn verleden, en dat is helaas alles wat ik over het verhaal kan vertellen zonder het te spoilen. Dat maakt een goede review schrijven ook behoorlijk moeilijk, aangezien ik op driekwart van het verhaal niet in kan gaan, maar vooruit. Gelukkig kan ik het wel hebben over de briljante schrijfstijl van Yamada, of misschien de briljante vertaling van Lammers. In dit boek zul je geen overdreven hyperbolen of uitgedachte alliteraties terug vinden; het lijkt er meer op dat iemand gewoon letterlijk de gedachten van Harada op papier heeft gezet. Er wordt geen gebruik gemaakt van overbodige stijlfiguren of uitgebreide beschrijvingen, en je zou misschien kunnen zeggen dat de schrijfstijl wat kortaf is. Maar in tegenstelling wat je van zoiets zou verwachten (een 'kort maar krachtige', zakelijke, manier van schrijven), voelt Strangers juist heel persoonlijk en zachtaardig aan. Meer dan eens merkte ik dat ik zelf precies de gevoelens had die Harada voelde op het moment dat hij met zijn verleden in aanraking kwam. Je voelt de liefde op sommige pagina's gewoon haast van het papier druipen.

Vandaar ook dat ik eigenlijk niet van een ghost story wil spreken. Op de voorspelbare en onnodige twist op het einde na, is dit boek meer een character drama dan een ghost story, en dat is maar goed ook. Strangers kaart het hele 'Japanese ghost story' thema op een compleet nieuwe en veel diepzinnigere manier aan dan alles wat je eerder hebt gezien. Het is geen Ju-On: the Book, maar het is ook zeker geen tranentrekkende Japanse dramafilm. Het is een luchtig, maar toch serieus verhaal wat over vloeit met liefde en waar je je op de bank zeker in thuis zal voelen, ookal doet de gemiddelde boekenlezer er waarschijnlijk maar een paar uur over.

Ik vind het echt jammer dat ik niet meer over dit boek kan schrijven zonder het verhaal te spoilen, want het is echt een heel erg goed boek. Dus doe jezelf een plezier en koop het hier: Play.com
Het kost maar 4 euro en er zijn geen verzendkosten, so what are you waiting for?

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4 comments on “Interweb reviews: Strangers, Taichi Yamada (Translated by Wayne P. Lammers)

  1. Koen
    30 January 2011

    EUR 7.28 Free Delivery, geen vier euro… ;)

  2. Harry d. Busdriver
    30 January 2011

    Als je je ogen twee centimeter naar beneden had laten dalen had je gezien dattie bij drie sellers, welliswaar used, 4 euro is =p

  3. Koen
    31 January 2011

    Tss! Moet je komen ;)

  4. Harry d. Busdriver
    1 February 2011

    Is dat like Nederlands voor COME AT ME BRO? :3

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This entry was posted on 29 January 2011 by in Books, Reviews and tagged , , , .

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