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Shot by Both Sides: A Novel by Meisei Goto
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Shot by Both Sides: A Novel

by Meisei Goto

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193537,190 (2.75)7

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The premise, again, was interesting, but the execution was shoddy. The prose (perhaps this is an issue of translation) was clunky, confusing; there was little to compel me to read forward besides the references to works of Russian literature; but only insofar as I then wanted to read those referenced works, and not this one. The narrator might have made for an interesting psychological study - but again, it never happened. ( )
  milkyfangs | Jul 14, 2011 |
Akaki is on a bridge in Ochanomizu bridge waiting for Yamakawa. No particular reason why he chooses that bridge to meet Yamakawa. He could have easily have chosen the next bridge over. Or a park bench. Or the subway exit. And what a strange thought to randomly decide to meet Yamakawa. And now he can't stop thinking about his greycoat that he lost at some point twenty years ago. Or was it a blue goat? Perhaps it was tan with stripes? Perhaps it was stolen?

And on and on do those digressions go. This book is the written equivalent of listening to someone trying to tell a story who just won't get to the point. Poorly written stream-of-consciousness for a plot that could have contained many wonderful layers of complexity and intrigue.

We end up following him throughout Tokyo, aimlessly describing the subway and train lines he took 20 years ago to get to where he is today. He takes off in the early morning and follows the path he once took. Eventually he gets to the home of an old friend at chapter four. But at chapter 5 I skipped to the last chapter so I don't know what happens in the middle.

I have yet to read it the last chapter too; I just wanted to get on with this review. And I'm so bored from reading this book that the last 8 pages is proving too dull to read. In the middle of the book you're supposed to get some resolution about the coat and some insight about how it relates to his memories of his childhood in North Korea while under Japanese rule but I couldn't tell you what that insight is. I'm usually a patient reader but this just wasn't striking me at all.

And to think this book is only 215 pages long with large font. You'd think I could make it. Perhaps I'll come back when I do finally finish the last chapter (let alone the other chapters). Till then, don't hold your breath. ( )
1 vote lilisin | Mar 16, 2010 |
Most of us I imagine, have wondered at some time or another, “what ever happened to that ________, I used to have” or “what does it look like now … where I used to live”. This is a story of one who had such a thought and on the spur of the moment went in quest of an old army greatcoat he wore 20 years previously while leaving his home in rural Kyushu to start a life in post-war Tokyo. During the course of the search, memories are stirred up, some vivid, some vague, in which he tries to make sense of his past. These assorted memories slowly reveal the trajectory of his early life. I found the narration of his childhood in colonial Korea both memorable and eerie. Identity, family, war and propaganda – all shape an early life. This is not a novel for impatient readers but it will reward those willing to be taken on a journey written in a stream of consciousness style. This is the first English translation of this author’s work. Hasamiuchi [Shot by Both Sides] was originally published in Japan in 1973. ( )
  washimono | Oct 24, 2009 |
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Standing on a Tokyo bridge waiting for a friend, Akaki, a middle-aged Japanese man, indulges in reminiscences that recall his arrival in Tokyo twenty years earlier, his childhood in northern Korea under Japanese rule, and the impact of the trauma of war.… (more)

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