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Snakes and Earrings (A Plume Book) by…
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Snakes and Earrings (A Plume Book) (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Kanehara Hitomi

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4482723,330 (3.29)43
Member:makl
Title:Snakes and Earrings (A Plume Book)
Authors:Kanehara Hitomi
Info:Penguin (2006), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:culture, youth, society

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Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara (2005)

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» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Well, that was disturbing on so many levels. ( )
  beckydj | Mar 31, 2013 |
Good but creepy. This book left a bad taste in my mouth at the very end but the journey there was interesting. ( )
  joyfiction | Feb 8, 2011 |
http://mowgliesq.com/2010/06/17/hitomi-kaneharas-snakes-and-earrings/

Superficially, Snakes and Earrings begs comparison to nihilistic Western novels such as Allan Warner’s Morvern Callar and Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero. Lui, the anti-heroine of the novel, channels both Morvern’s airy amorality and Clay’s muted despair. Yet this is more than a first-person narrative of Western anomie/ennui transplanted to Japan; Ms. Kanehara has managed to remain grounded in the Japanese canon while documenting a society that is coming to resemble those of the West. Two of her literary forefathers, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki and Yukio Mishima, exert a particularly strong influence here. Tanizaki’s “The Tattoo Artist” and Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask are thematically salient, the former in its meditation on beauty and moral corruption, the latter in its fascination with sadomasochism. (It’s also interesting to note that the cover of Snakes and Earrings bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Seven Japanese Tales, a collection in which “The Tattoo Artist” is included.)

Snakes and Earrings is certainly a promising first novel, written with the same chilling economy of language as Less Than Zero, the first novel of Kanehara’s more immediate literary ancestor. Unfortunately, it also shares Less Than Zero’s glaring stamp of juvenilia, as well as the presumption that readers should content themselves with a wunderkind’s slim and large-typed first volume until s/he can produce a “mature” work. In the case of Ellis, we had to wait seven years, but the finished product more than justified the hype surrounding his debut; despite much hand-wringing from priggish reviewers and moral busy-bodies, American Psycho secured Ellis a place in the pantheon of contemporary literature. No stranger to controversy herself, Kanehara may well be joining him presently.
  A_Hunger_Artist | Aug 8, 2010 |
Girl meets boy, is fascinated by his forked tongue and is drawn into a relationship she's not really into until a violent ending. Lui, the protagonist, is something of a vagrant. She has no real interest in anything until she discovers the art of body modification, but what really attracts her is the possibility of dying. She starts an affair with a man who expresses desire to kill her and at one point she wonders if she'd rather be killed by her actual boyfriend after all. But it's the boyfriend who gets killed, and the lover might be the one who did it.

Unlike some other reviewers I saw definite character growth in Lui. For the most part she's lost and practically suicidal, but in the end she seems willing to give living a chance. Some of her choices aren't morally sound, but at least her reasons are about life, not death.

I'm a bit surprised to have liked this book: it's too short and too morbid for my tastes. For some reason it worked for me anyway. ( )
  julienne_preacher | Apr 13, 2010 |
Snakes and Earrings, a short first novel translated from the original Japanese, is an exploration of the daily life and inner thoughts of a urban teen. The young author won high accolades and the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for her attempt at depicting a microscopic slice of post-punk subculture. While this work does have a sprinkling of positive aspects, the overall impact is simultaneously facile and bleak.

One is immediately drawn into Lui's world and her frank descriptions of intertwined sex and violence. She is extremely preoccupied with appearance and labels, and perhaps this coupled with her complete lack of motivation beyond her immediate physicality, propels her into a relationship with Ama. Their meeting opens the novel and Lui's subsequent attempts to go deeper the only way she knows how, body modifications. The story follows her journey towards obtaining a forked tongue and a dragon tattoo. In this pursuit, she meet Shiba-san, the tattoo artist who plies his trade in exchange for violent sex with her, unbeknownst to Ama. This triangle fuels the plot to its strange and unconvincing end. The most pressing question the novel leaves the reader with is why this work received such high praise. ( )
  bookhouseshell | Apr 3, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hitomi Kaneharaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Karashima, David JamesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
"Know what a forked tongue is?"
Quotations
"All I wanted was to be part of an underground world where the sun doesn't shine, there are no love songs, and the sound of children's laughter is never, ever heard."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Snakes and Earrings (Originally published in Japan as: Hebi ni Piasu)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0525948899, Hardcover)

An underground world.
A murder.
An international phenomenon.
Snakes and Earrings. . . .

Describing a world as amoral and fascinating as the landscapes of Less Than Zero and Trainspotting, this novel about a young woman living in the violent world of Japan’s underground youth culture is both shocking and strangely beautiful.

Enchanted by the snake-like tongue of a stranger called Ama, nineteen-year-old Lui takes a walk into another side of life. On the Tokyo streets, she finds a world where pain bleeds into pleasure. Where day fades into night. And where right turns into wrong.

An international bestseller.
Winner of the Akutagawa Prize.
Translated by David James Karashima.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:43 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Enchanted by the snakelike tongue of a stranger called Ama, nineteen-year-old Lui takes a walk into another side of life. On the Tokyo streets, she finds a world where pain bleeds into pleasure. Where day fades into night. And where right turns into wrong."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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