Fujisan

All posts tagged Fujisan

Short Stories Challenge – Child Of Light by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Published September 13, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s Child Of Light all about?:

Child of Light is a story about a nurse who struggles as she comes to terms with her role in the oft-brutal cycle of birth, life, and death.

What did I think?:

This story is the last in this spellbinding collection by Randy Taguchi, and is a beautiful little tale with several dark moments. Child of Light opens with our narrator visiting a Buddhist shrine for the Bodhisattva of Compassion, the Goddess of Mercy, where she happens upon another woman praying for the soul of her child which she sadly miscarried. The two women begin talking and we find out that our narrator is a nurse working in the gynaecological field, mainly with pregnant women. She is struggling to deal with a build up of hatred and disbelief at how easily young girls become pregnant and abort the foetus in such a matter-of-fact manner. One patient is particularly troubling her at the moment, a young girl who is five months pregnant but appears extremely laissez-faire about her condition, insisting that she has to have an abortion. As the girl is so far advanced with her pregnancy the abortion process is slightly trickier and has to be carried out under general anaesthesia. While the girl is recovering, our nurse attempts to hide the disgust that she feels for her patient but her emotions are clear enough for the young girl to see. After a horrific incident with the girl’s father, our narrator finally begins to feel some kind of understanding and sympathy towards her charge.

Our narrator’s state of mind in the story is causing her great difficulties, and when she happens upon the woman praying at the shrine, we learn that she has visited to pray for all the aborted babies souls so that they reach heaven, to try and ease her own internal trauma somewhat. As the two women talk, our narrator learns that the reason the praying woman miscarried was because she was brutally stabbed and can no longer have children, despite her intense longing and desperation for one. Both women decide to join a group climbing Mount Fuji where they meet another woman who has advanced and terminal cervical cancer but is determined to reach the summit of Mount Fuji as one of her final tasks. Our narrator starts to realise the extent of other people’s suffering and reaches some sort of peace in her own mind after the journey to the top.

I thought this was a lovely story to conclude a short story collection which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Some parts of the tale are slightly dark, but intensely enjoyable, even though some images for example, the description of the abortion of the young girl will probably stay with me for a while, but this is proof of the power of the author’s writing. Although my views differ slightly from the nurse regarding abortion, I appreciated and understood her views on the subject, and found her fight to appease her own emotional state deeply moving. I think the inclusion of other female characters in suffering allowed our narrator to put her own problems in perspective, and find some stability in her own life. Lovely story, beautiful writing and a general “thumbs up,” from me! I’m definitely looking forward to exploring more of Randy Taguchi’s writing.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: Proving Up by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove.

Challenge: Short Stories July to September

Published July 7, 2014 by bibliobeth

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I’ve really been enjoying my Short Stories Challenge so far, if you want to see what I’ve been reading so far, search for Short Stories Challenge on my main page and you should get a few (ahem!) entries. And here’s my batch of short stories for the next three months!

 Week beginning 7th July

The Colour Out Of Space by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 14th July

The Blood Pearl by Barry Maitland from the collection The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 21st July

The Isabel Fish by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 28th July

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 4th August

Cain Rose Up by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 11th August

Peep Show by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Week beginning 18th August

Lights In Other Peoples Houses by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 25th August

Child of Light by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Week beginning 1st September

Proving Up by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Week beginning 8th September

The Boscombe Valley Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 15th September

The Agency by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 22nd September

I Am An Executioner by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner

Week beginning 29th September

A Day In The Life Of Half Of Rumpelstiltskin by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Short Stories Challenge – Jamila by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Published April 15, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s Jamila all about?:

Remaining constant even as it fades in and out of view is the great Mount Fuji, one of Japan’s Three Holy Mountains. It serves as the anchor for these characters lives, and for Randy Taguchi’s Fujisan, an exploration of redemption, discovery, loss, and remembrance and the eternal bond with the mystical natural powers that connect us all. In Jamila, we learn about a young man who is beautiful on the outside but fears he is empty inside and an old woman who is using garbage to replace a hole in her heart.

What did I think?:

Jamila is the third story in this collection by Randy Taguchi, and yet again another example of truly beautiful writing in my opinion. Our narrator is a very attractive twenty-something man who has been pushed to achieve great things all his life by his parents but is uncomfortable with who he is inside. He gives up a menial job in a securities firm but his father manages to acquire him a post in the Office of Environmental Quality, expecting him to worm his way up to the top in no time. One of his duties as an environmental officer is to deal with a local “problem” in the form of an old woman who hoards trash. This has become an environmental issue as the trash is piling up from the house into the street, and has begun to smell awful, affecting the neighbours in the vicinity.

Our narrator is horrified at first when he sees the extent of the problem and when he is first introduced to the old woman he nicknames her “Jamila” in reference to a monster he remembers from a children’s TV show in his past. He begins to watch Jamila to try to understand more about her as he has been told that although the accumulated garbage poses a health hazard, they must have the old woman’s permission before they can remove it. He watches as every day she hobbles out to collect more rubbish and sorts through it, sometimes finding something to eat before adding it to the pile and crawling through the little tunnel she has made back into her house. After a while, our narrator seems to find a common ground with Jamila and is certain she is using the rubbish to fill a hole that he feels is also present in his own life.

Our narrator is also an intriguing character as we learn more about his childhood, his pushy parents and his relationships with women which often turn sour very quickly. He is not particularly a likeable character, indeed there are some parts of his life that are quite shocking to read but always in a way that made me turn the pages desperate to see how it was all resolved. And of course, the ever present Mount Fuji whose forests apparently also represent a dumping ground for the trash of Japan. Another beautiful and compelling story by Randy Taguchi that needs to be read and savoured – I’m actually quite sad that the next story in this collection is the final one, I’ve definitely found an author to look out for.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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The monster, Jamila from kids show Ultra Q

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979 by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Challenge: Short Stories April to June

Published April 1, 2014 by bibliobeth

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The year is going really quickly so far and these are the short stories that will keep me entertained until the end of June!

Week beginning 7th April

Jamila by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Week beginning 14th April

The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979 by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Week beginning 21st April

A Case of Identity by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 28th April

Bees by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 5th May

Four Rajeshes by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner: Love Stories

Week beginning 12th May

Apples by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Week beginning 19th May

She Was Looking For This Coat by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 26th May

Ganymede by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 2nd June

Xenos Beach by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 9th June

Chocolate Hearts From The New World by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 16th June

Snatched by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 23rd June

Malvern Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

Week beginning 30th June

Ghosts With Teeth by Peter Crowther from the collection A Book of Horrors

Short Stories Challenge – The Sea of Trees by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Published December 9, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s The Sea of Trees all about?:

The Sea of Trees is the second story in this collection by Randy Taguchi which tells the story of three boys who face a frightening lesson in mortality. All the tales in this book feature Mount Fuji in some way, which serves as the anchor for these characters and is an exploration of redemption, discovery, loss and remembrance and the eternal bond with the mystical natural powers that connect us all.

What did I think?:

There are three main characters in this story, boys named Satoshi, Yuji and Jun, the latter of which is introduced as our narrator for the duration. The boys have completely different personalities varying along the scale of introvert to extrovert as we can tell from the start, but have all become friends and celebrating their last time together before going off to separate high schools. They decide to do this by visiting the woodland known as The Sea of Trees by Mount Fuji, a spot known notoriously as “suicide central,” a peaceful place where people decide to end their lives.

“They say that if you got lost in here you’d never escape. It was supposedly a natural maze, and even magnetic compasses went haywire in this dangerous forest.”

The boys are filled with trepidation and excitement about their journey through the forest and their eventual camp site, but prepare their way with plenty of chocolate (for energy of course) and mark their progress through the woods by looping bright tape around trees, almost like a trail of breadcrumbs. As they reach their camp for the night, the conversation turns to more serious topics such as life and death, and the concept of the self in relation to how we view the world. The tale turns a lot more sinister however, when secrets emerge from all three boys that they have never told anyone before, and they literally stare death in the face for the first time.

I know that I’m only on the second of the stories from this collection but this one has to be my favourite so far. The characters of all three boys were all so different and incredibly complex, especially the character of Yuji who gave me quite conflicting emotions – he was both fascinating and slightly scary while closer to the end of the story, made me feel a great deal of pity towards him. When the boys face a situation of life and death in the forest, I couldn’t put the book down until I knew how it was going to end. Believe me, you are going to want to read this haunting, spiritual and poignant view of death that may make you look at things in a whole different light.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: Reeling for the Empire by Karen Russell, from the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Challenge: Short Stories October to December

Published October 4, 2013 by bibliobeth

What better way to end the year then by enjoying some more short stories? Here  is how I plan to spend the next three months:

Week beginning  7th October

Mr E. Morse, BA OXON (Failed) by Colin Dexter, from the collection The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime, Volume 7

Week beginning 14th October

Pilgrims by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 21st October

Her First Ball by Katherine Mansfield from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 28th October

Here There Be Tygers by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 4th November

Sister Hills by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Week beginning 11th November

Countless Stones by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 18th November

The Sea of Trees by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Week beginning 25th November

Reeling for the Empire by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Week beginning 2nd December

The Red-Headed League by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 9th December

The Beautiful Indifference by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 16th December

The Strange Career of Dr. Raju Gopalarajan by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner

Week beginning 23rd December

Things That Fall From The Sky by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Week beginning 30th December

In Winter The Sky by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Short Stories Challenge – The Blue Summit – Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan.

Published July 1, 2013 by bibliobeth

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The Blue Summit – What’s it all about?:

Randy Taguchi is a popular Japanese author who has written fourteen novels, along with countless short stories and essays. This recent collection of stories revolves around Japan’s Mount Fuji, one of the three Holy Mountains in the country. The mountain becomes an anchor for each of the characters lives, and remains a steady, looming presence in each tale. Our first story – The Blue Summit involves a former cult member working part-time at a convenience store, who is struggling to adjust and understand life outside of the cult. After an attempted robbery at the store, he contemplates his early life in which he was a medical student compared to his current meanderings, and questions the meaning of what it is to be “alive.”

What did I think?:

I’m a big fan of Japanese fiction so I was looking forward to starting this collection. The Blue Summit is a quirky, thought-provoking story, with a philosophical former cult member as our protagonist. He is currently working part-time at a convenience store which he enjoys as it gives him time to reflect on the meaning of life. When confronted by a robber, he seems to re-assess everything anew, unsure of his place and purpose in the world. He undergoes dream-like sequences where he defends himself against the robber, or recalls past times under Mount Fuji in his cult days. Another important character in the story is a troubled young woman called Kozue – a serial self-harmer. Our protagonist feels called upon to protect and help her, and through these actions he seems to find some peace.

I was intrigued and at some points completely mystified by this story – it seemed to hop around a lot with dream sequences, and I found myself wondering which events happened and which were purely dreams or fantasies. This I think was a deliberate ploy by the author representing our characters confused and turbulent mood. The addition of Kozue was an excellent means of keeping the tale interesting, and I enjoyed the interaction and mystery between the two of them.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

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NEXT SHORT STORY: Vampires In The Lemon Grove, Karen Russell from the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove.