The Bridegroom Was a Dog

ISBN: 4770029403
ISBN 13: 9784770029409
By: Yōko Tawada Margaret Mitsutani

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Genres

Asian Currently Reading Fiction Japan Japanese Japanese Fiction Japanese Literature Short Stories To Read World Literature

About this book

In these three narratives, an ingenious story-teller has created a new kind of fantasy, playful yet vaguely sinister, laced with her own brand of humor, which reviewers have labeled variously as "funky," "mischievous," "weird," and "hilarious." The author was in her early thirties when the title story won her country's highest literary award. In The Bridegroom Was a Dog, an offbeat cram school teacher tells her pupils a story about a little princess whose hand in marriage is promised to a dog as a reward for licking her bottom clean; only to have her own life turned upside down by the sudden appearance of a dog-like man with a predilection for the same part of her anatomy. When rumor-mongering housewives try to force them into a more respectable relationship, both escape into new relationships of their own... With its publication here, alongside two other equally offbeat but plausible fantasies, readers in the West can now discover for themselves a writer whose inventions are as strange and exhilarating as the best of dreams.

Reader's Thoughts

p-ok-ahontas

абсолютно божевільна сюрреалістично-анальна історія. в ступорі.

A.J.

Out of the three stories I read the first and third one, "The Bridegroom was a Dog" and "The Gotthard Railway." Suffice it to say it was enough to get the point. And, as seems typical of anything assigned in a classroom setting, there was no point. Oh, yeah, we now have a great excuse to talk about strange sex and Freudian cliches, but the elephant in the room is at once so massive and so invisible it's hard to grip just how big the problem is with this book.No story.I'm constantly amazed––bewildered, thunderstruck, flabbergasted––at how people, particularly in academia, can lament the downfall of reading in the modern age and force people to read stories about aimless nonsense with characters driven by nothing but impulse. String enough random shit together in sixty pages and you're a genius, apparently.Fiction is the place where intellect and emotion meet and tango for the reader's satisfaction. Stuff like this pretends to one and ignores the other. And while quite naturally the problem is I just don't get it, I'm close-minded, and I work for the Man, I'm more than satisfied to read stuff that at least makes an effort to tell a coherent story. I'm all for experimentation, particularly with short stories, but Yoko Tawada isn't the first person to ever spend over a hundred pages saying nothing.

Clark

The titular story is perfect.

Daryl

Surreal, postmodern, funny. I read the Gotthard Railway for class a year or two ago and it was a little frustrating, so picked it up with a bit of trepidation. The first story, The Bridegroom Was a Dog, is really fun, really gross, weird and very interesting. It's much more narrative than the others, and the characters are easier to relate to. (Although still as crazy as anything) The second, Missing Heels, is also funny and a little more weird and autistic, a bit like a dream; it reminded me of Abe Kobo. The third, The Gotthard Railway, is less narrative and a lot more disconnected, even more autistic than the others. I'd like to try reading at least The Bridegroom Was a Dog, and maybe some of her other stuff in Japanese now.Also, I find it hilarious how many of the other reviews on here compare her to Murakami, and say that Japanese people are weird. Like British or American modern literature is so fucking sensible. Ha!

mika

got this for free at a book signing. pretty good in a creepy-dreamy kind of way (the back calls this "kafka"). compare with murakami. interesting use of folk, modern, and post-modern sources. i detect a sort of post-modern angst.

Marie

Three fantastic tales written in a blunt form. Minimalistic yet very image oriented, each of the stories explores the idea of humanity and what/who a person can really be. At times dissonant, at others terribly accurate this book is definitely fascinating. I am not quite sure yet whether I love it or simply find it impossible to put down because of the writing style... I will have to read it a few more times to make that decision.

Amy

The Bridegroom Was a Dog was a daydream. I read it and wanted more afterwards. I didn't think it was as absurd as people made it out to be, if anything it was wildly imaginative. I've read lots of reviews by people who didn't like the book at all, claiming it lacked a 'point.' But I felt, that for such a small book, there is a strong sense of Tawada's conflicts with gender and cultural differences. It turned me on to surrealist writing again. Each story had its own personality and rhythm. While I usually am not a huge fan of short stories, this book simply flowed and I truly enjoyed it.

Brian

Yoko Tawada is good. This book of 3 short narratives is the first of her works to be translated in English. These twisted tales are funny and slightly sinister. In the title story, a ‘cram’ school teacher tells her students a story about a little princess whose hand in marriage is promised to a dog as a reward for licking her bottom clean; only to have her own life turned upside down by the sudden appearance of a dog-like man with a predilection for the same part of her anatomy. The second story, Missing Heels, a mail-order bride arrives at her new husband’s home. She attempts to learn the culture of her new homeland and normalcy is questioned. She appears to have missing heels and it appears her husband is of a somewhat different species. The last story, The Gotthard Railway, is about a reporter fixated on entering things.I’ve never been inside a man. Everyone was once trapped in the belly of a woman we call Mother, and yet we go to our graves without knowing what a father’s body is like inside.

Gertrude & Victoria

The Bridegroom Was a Dog by Tawada Yoko is a small collection of contemplative works, which are little more than fragments of strange people, places, events and dreams. Described as kafkaesque, they are disquieting.The second piece in this book Missing Heels is a surreal story set in a foreign land. Here, people are without names and identities; their thoughts and actions seem unreal. They are antagonistic, hostile, and indifferent towards the main character. From every encounter with teacher, passer-by, doctor or locksmith there exists an irreconciable aloofness. The sense of alienation, not just from others and society, but also from place and time, is bewildering.Every scene seems without logic, and each disconnected from the whole, like watching a slide show of random images, or looking at a structure with no central axis or focal point. Morevoer, the temporal and spatial qualities seem self-referential and static. Tawada superbly creates feelings of detatchment and distance in an arbitrary universe of random occurrences. This is a perplexing, but fascinating invention of a modern literary style.One has to wonder if this short story is not in some way, and to some extent, autobiographical, if the protagonist is not the author herself when she first moved to Germany in her early twenties. For any young person uprooting from one's own culture to re-root in a competely different one, this is the picture you might see.

Christine

described to me as Haruki Murakami taken up a few more notches–but more like more gratuitous violence and sex. Has its surreal moments, and the title story is the best of the 3 short stories in this collection.

Dana

I started reading this a couple years ago and didn't think too, too much of it, but I've been thinking of it a lot lately...need to read more of her stuff. Impressionistic? It left quite an impression. Considering the considerably higher rating for the German versions of her work, I'm wondering if something is not lost in translation...

Sae-chan

This is like a guy in Dali's painting dreaming surreal dreams. Amazingly out of this world. I love Missing Heels the most.

Jim Elkins

The problem with Tawada's fiction, in the end -- because it has startling and funny moments, and is intermittently very tight and engaging -- is that she thinks that her surrealist insights and personal associations are brilliant. Sometimes they are, but often they aren't, and they keep coming, page after page. If it didn't appear that she was so easily satisfied with the first image that came to her mind, the narratives could be much more consistently vulnerable, psychologically opaque, and fragile (as they often are). Here's just one example, from the end of the third novella in this collection.[return][return]The story is finished, the themes have been developed; the narrator is closing out the story, and the book. In the final paragraph, the narrator sees "a group of bicycles wrapped in plastic sheets," "parked outside like a herd of calves." And she adds: "Perhaps the ghosts of calves killed in railway accidents sneaked out at night to gather by the station for a chat."[return][return]If this were the beginning of the story, or if calves killed in railway accidents had a greater role in the story (they have a momentary role), then this might be compelling as an image. But it's not: it's distracting and exhausting, for two reasons. First because it shows that Tawada could just keep going with surrealist images indefinitely; and second because it's apparent she likes the image: she's proud of it, and she thinks her ability to come up with tropes like this is one of her strengths, or even her principal strength, as a writer.[return][return]I might read more of her work, because two of the three stories here have a core of genuine self-alienation. They are driven by unaccountable judgments, both on the part of the narrator and those around her, and Tawada's sense of sexuality is persistently weirdly affectless, even though that persistence is itself almost impossible to take seriously. But I would stop reading if I kept encountering prose cluttered with supposedly poetic surrealist figures.

Chris

i seriously loled while reading inumukoiri (read it with the voice of sol rosenberg from jerky boys in your mind and you will too!). missing heels was great - so off the wall, but oodles of fun.

Abby

The perfect book for a commute. Three short stories. Three bus/subway or train rides. And it is a pretty book. A small book. A paperback with a cover sleave thingy like hardbacks have. I'm a sucker for pretty books. Read the title story first.I don't know. I don't know if I will ever know. This is my kind of weird, but it is also the kind of weird that worries me. The kind that makes me think that fiction and poetry are going to this scary elliptical place. I wasn't lonely or sad until an hour after I finished it. Then suddenly, sad sad sad.

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