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Tokyo Fragments: Short Stories of Modern…
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Tokyo Fragments: Short Stories of Modern Tokyo by Five of Japan's Leading…

by Giles Murray

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Tokyo Fragments is an extremely appropriate name for this collection - each of the five stories feels like it's a fragment broken off of something else, not necessarily in the best place. They're all meandering stories that have little sense of purpose and stop rather than end, and while this isn't automatically a bad thing, most of these don't carry it off well.

Fruits of Shinjuku - A college dropout falls for a foreign prostitute, with predictable B-movie results.

Yumeko - A group of old bar friends discuss neighborhoods and the attitudes of those within them, particularly with regard to a certain newcomer in theirs. This was my favorite of the stories - it lacked resolution and was almost more of a Platonic dialogue than a story at times, but here it felt appropriate, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the musings about the heart of a neighborhood.

One Year Later - A status-seeking husband-hunter worries about her relationship with her temporary boyfriend. She learns a lesson, or maybe not. I couldn't tell.

The Yellow Tent on the Roof - A suddenly homeless businessman starts camping out in a tent on the roof of his building. Pleasant but unexceptional.

The Housewife and the Police Box - a housewife and her daughter both start obsessing over police boxes. The characters were charming enough, but this one seemed to suffer the most from the feeling that it was taken out of a larger work and not meant as a standalone piece.

As an attempt to convey a sense of Tokyo, the stories do well enough, but as actual stories, they come up lacking. Not terrible, but not really recommended. ( )
  Redon | Mar 5, 2008 |
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