RARA-AVIS: Natsuo Kirino and hardboiled violence

From: Mark Sullivan ( DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net)
Date: 31 Aug 2003

From Katy Munger's mystery reviews in today's Washington Post Book World:

One of the mystery genre's most annoying pretensions is the current notion that extreme violence is somehow groundbreaking or, even worse, feminist if a female author depicts it. Such passages are usually either boring or offensive -- unless they are presented as an integral part of a character's psychological portrait (as is the case with early Thomas Harris) or as a deliberate statement about society as a whole.
      Both of these motivations appear to be at work in the case of Out, by Natsuo Kirino, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder
(Kodansha, $22.95). The book comes to the United States after causing a stir in Japan, where Kirino's graphic description of a body being dismembered and an audacious, sexually violent ending shocked many readers. Americans may have the same reaction. But if you can accept these passages, Out offers an intriguing look at the darker sides of Japanese society while smashing stereotypes about Japanese women. . . . Out is not easy to read. The passages of violence, in particular, are hampered by an abruptness that borders on the choppy, probably caused by the complexity of translating from the Japanese. But it is a fascinating tale nonetheless. Noir fans will find themselves turning page after page in hopes of discovering that at least some of the women survive.

Has anyone read this book? It sounds intriguing.

Does anyone have any comments about Munger's initial statement on the use of violence? As I wrote in another recent post, I just saw Three Men to Kill. It was introduced by the director of the AFI-Silver Theatre (damn, I love that it moved in across the street from me). He ended his remarks with a warning that some people find the violence in the movie offputting, some even said it was gratuitous (although he pretty clearly didn't think so). I found it mild. However, that does raise an interesting question about the different uses of violence, especially in a medium like ours that so often makes use of, even depends upon it.

Finally, Munger also gives a positive review of Greg Rucka's new standalone, A Fistful of Rain. Has anyone read it?

The whole article is available at:



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