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The Diving Pool: Three Novellas by Yoko…
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The Diving Pool: Three Novellas

by Yoko Ogawa

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
This is the second book I have read by this leading Japanese author. After recently reading her wonderful book “The Housekeeper and the Professor” I started looking for her other translated works.
This is a collection of 3 novellas, all marked by her simple elegant prose. My favourite was the title story, about a teenage girl whose religious parents run a home (the ‘Light House’) for orphans and abandoned children. She feels out of sync with her family and her home. “Sometimes, as I approach, the Light House appears fixed and acute, while I, by contrast, feel vague and dim. At other times, I feel almost painfully clear and sharp, while the Light House is hazy. Either way, there is always something irreconcilable between the house and me, something I can never get past.” She has a crush on one of the teenage boys in her home with whom she has grown up. “I was the only one who had seen the expressions on his face at these moments, and I kept those images locked away like a bundle of precious letters.” He is a diver, and she loves to watch him from the corners and shadows. She feels closest to him, there at the pool. She is lonely and alienated from her family. She describes her voluble mother: “Particularly talkative during dinner, she was not one to cast about for topics that would include everyone, preferring to talk about herself and her interests from the moment we sat down until the meal was over. As she would grow increasingly excited and out of breath, I often wondered whether she in fact hated herself for talking so much. … Her lips were like two maggots that never stopped wriggling, and I found myself wanting to squash them between my fingers.” The reader starts to feel sympathy for her, but then is brought up short by sprays of thin strands of cruelty. Ogawa keeps gently pushing the reader along with her descriptions that make you stop and look again. “…along the way the knot of people who left the station with me unravels and fades away with the sunlight.” and “Sunlight covered the ground like a shower of gold dust.”
In “The Pregnancy Diary” the descriptions of the emotions, the morning sickness, and cravings of pregnancy were deftly drawn and twisted a bit, the result slightly oddly funny, or funnily odd, and even a bit touching.
I initially thought this collection was about a 3 to 3 ½, but in re-reading parts of them, and thinking again about them, trying to puzzle them out (because they are all a bit odd and sometimes a tad creepy), I find her writing is definitely growing on me, and I’d give it a 4. I’m on the lookout for another one by her.
( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
The diving pool is a collection of three short stories of the Japanese author, Yoko Ogawa. In each of the three stories there is a decided preponderance of food and on the human body. Somewhat comparable to the chute in French novels, that is to say an unexpected turn, each story in The diving pool is characterised by a sinister twist.

The first story, "The Diving Pool" is perhaps the most beautiful. The descriptions of the male swimmers' body are quite erotic. The twist in the story is surprising, and makes the reader wonder with what pre-meditation or deliberation the act of kindness, or generosity was made. The casualness of the description suggests impulse, but the accusation at the end seems to see through that innocense.

The second story, "Pregnace Diary" seems to build up too slowly. This story has a much stronger sense of intentional malice, and the scope of the cruelty is determined in the mind of the reader, whether it is limited to physical pain or permanent deformation.

In the final story, "Dormitory", the physique of one of the characters is somewhat absurd. This story is perhaps strongest in building up suspense.

All three stories in The diving pool are highly original in the twisted outcome and the way the body and food are connected. The main theme of each of the story is love, although not in the usual relations of lovers. The stories are easy to read and enjoyable. ( )
  edwinbcn | Feb 25, 2016 |
I first encountered Ogawa years ago when I read her short story "The Cafeteria in the Evening and a Pool in the Rain" in the New Yorker. That story was wonderfully atmospheric and dreary: a beautiful little piece that stayed with you. The novellas (can they even be called that? they're more like short stories) in "The Diving Pool" are similarly atmospheric but unlike "Cafeteria", they're instantly forgettable. There's something quietly sinister about the stories, but tbh they're just not that interesting or substantive. The last story ("The Dormitory") is engaging and creepy, but despite its excellent premise, the ending is a huge let-down. Don't get me wrong-- I think Ogawa is a good writer, but this collection is SO short. A larger collection might have featured some stronger stories and a more balanced vision. ( )
  megantron | Jan 2, 2015 |
This is a collection of three novellas, originally published separately.

The Diving Pool is a well-constructed story, with a good balance that builds nicely to the climax. It works very well as a coming of age story.

The second story, Pregnancy Diary, bored me. Something very early on in the story telegraphed the ending to me. I really did not care to go through all that it took to get there. I tried hard not to skim.

Dormitory, the last of the three, was also the least of the three. It in the vein of stories by Saki H.H. Mu ( )
  seeword | Feb 23, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yoko Ogawaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Snyder, StephenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312426836, Paperback)

The first major English translation of one of contemporary Japan's bestselling and most celebrated authors

 

From Akutagawa Award-winning author Yoko Ogawa comes a haunting trio of novellas about love, fertility, obsession, and how even the most innocent gestures may contain a hairline crack of cruel intent.

A lonely teenage girl falls in love with her foster brother as she watches him leap from a high diving board into a pool--a peculiar infatuation that sends unexpected ripples through her life.

A young woman records the daily moods of her pregnant sister in a diary, taking meticulous note of a pregnancy that may or may not be a hallucination--but whose hallucination is it, hers or her sister's?

A woman nostalgically visits her old college dormitory on the outskirts of Tokyo, a boarding house run by a mysterious triple amputee with one leg.

Hauntingly spare, beautiful, and twisted, The Diving Pool is a disquieting and at times darkly humorous collection of novellas about normal people who suddenly discover their own dark possibilities.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:21 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"From Akutagawa award-winning author Yoko Ogawa comes a haunting trio of novellas about love, fertility, obsession, and how even the most innocent gestures may contain a hairline crack of cruel intent." "A lonely teenage girl falls in love with her foster brother as she watches him leap from a high diving board into a pool - a peculiar infatuation that sends unexpected ripples through her life." "A young woman records the daily moods of her pregnant sister in a diary, taking meticulous note of a pregnancy that may or may not be a hallucination - but whose hallucination is it, hers or her sister's?" "A woman nostalgically visits her old college dormitory on the outskirts of Tokyo, a boarding house run by a mysterious triple amputee with one leg. Hauntingly spare, beautiful, and twisted, The Diving Pool is a disquieting and at times darkly humorous collection of novellas about normal people who suddenly discover their own dark possibilities."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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