One of the things I try very hard to do on this blog is write something about each and every book I read. For some books, this is easier said than done… sometimes I don’t have tons to say about a book because it failed to make much of an impression (hence my tag of “mehcommendation”), but sometimes writing is hard for a very different reason. Sometimes a book is SO GOOD, it just defies my own attempt to grapple with it linguistically. Last year I read The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
by Yukio Mishima and it was definitely a case of the second issue. It was a brilliant book, but it was also very difficult and challenging, and in the end, I never felt like I was able to sufficiently collect my thoughts to say anything marginally coherent about it or that would come close to doing that literary masterpiece justice. I must admit, it was the only book in 2009 that I didn’t review, but I’d hate for any of you to think it’s because it wasn’t any good. Y’all know I don’t mind sharing my loathing of a book when that happens to be the case; words rarely fail me when I’m peeved!
After reading Temple
I was determined to read more Mishima. I am open about the fact that my knowledge of Asian authors is not nearly as good as it could be, so I was happy to find an author from that part of the world who really wowed me with his poetic prose stylings. One of the things I respected so much about Temple
was that while it was very Japanese in its setting and its perspective, I found the writing very approachable and surprisingly western. Yes it could have been a good translation, but I tend to think that in order for literature in translation to really sing, it has to be pretty impressive in its original form as well. The writing was melodic and precise and incredibly evocative. I was really impressed by the psychological depths that Mishima explored in his writing, and admired that he wasn’t afraid of going to some very dark places.