by Kobo Abe
"[T]he story of an amateur entomologist who wanders alone into a remote seaside village in pursuit of a rare beetle he wants to add to his collection. But the townspeople take him prisoner. They lower him into the sand-pit home of a young widow, a pariah in the poor community, who the villagers have condemned to a life of shoveling back the ever-encroaching dunes that threaten to bury the town." (Description from Amazon.com)
I wanted to love this. I really wanted to love this. There is so much here to sift through and analyze -- the helpless feeling of being trapped in a life you are forced into, contemplating the meaninglessness of existence even when your labors are sustaining others, alienation, finding reason in absurdity. And that is barely scratching the surface! However, I just didn't connect with The Woman in the Dunes. I had no feelings at all for the man, the woman or the villagers. The only thing that got to me was the descriptions of sand everywhere all the time -- in their clothes, stuck to their skin, in their mouths, in their food and water. It made me itchy. I found myself very impatient to be finished with the book. But in my push to finish, I did find a great quote that I need to write down and frame: "Defeat begins with the fear that one has lost." I need to remember that when I start feeling like I'm not skilled enough to understand deep literature. Like now. :-) I'm just starting though, right? I have time to figure this out.
I can't say I wouldn't read the author again. He is a celebrated Japanese author, and the descriptions of some of his other books are intriguing. Perhaps I just read this one at the wrong time. Perhaps it just isn't my thing.
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!